Coronavirus Killed Mazda’s TCR Program

Coronavirus Killed Mazda’s TCR Program
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Ever since last October I’ve been looking forward to Mazda’s gorgeous 3 TCR racer. The program has been fraught with issues. Not only was the program planned to begin racing in 2020, which has seen the season completely implode, but Mazda’s TCR partner manufacturer Long Road Racing went out of business in January. On Tuesday, Mazda confirmed to Grassroots Motorsports Magazine that the planned launch of the car, which had been punted out to 2021, is now scrubbed altogether thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Grassroots received confirmation from Emily Taylor, Mazda USA’s Director, Communications & Experiential Marketing.

“Given the recent conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) has elected to cancel the development program for the Mazda3 TCR car. We thank all our fans and partners for their continued support for Mazda Motorsports.”

The 3 TCR is far and away the best looking touring car to ever see the light of day, and the fact that it will be limited to just one prototype example is a travesty of enormous proportions. It’s just one more thing that this hell virus — and the atrocious response to it that Americans have exhibited — has taken from us in 2020.

The car was initially intended to make its competition debut during the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Daytona in January. Long Road Racing has long paired with Mazda to prepare its Mazda MX-5 Cup cars, so it was a natural connection that this team would also prepare the TCR entries. Then the Long family’s racing operation folded suddenly, leaving Mazda without anyone to build its racers. At that point, the car missed its planned debut and Mazda extended the car’s plan out by a year.

Development of the 3 TCR was already well underway, and the wholly-American program was looking ready for prime time. A planned series of test days were next on the docket when Long pulled the plug on his operations. Now, several months later, Mazda USA is putting the whole program out to pasture as its sales trend downward and coronavirus continues wreaking havoc on the American economic system. Even if the car were to be finished, could Mazda even find teams willing to run the car? Could the teams willing to run the car even find sponsors?

As they say, it is better to have loved the Mazda3 TCR and lost it than to never have fallen in love at all. Goodnight, my sweet. We’ll meet again one day, forever and anon.