The final piece of the equipment puzzle for the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires was put in place today with the unveiling of the Tatuus PM-18 chassis at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.
The PM-18 will be put into use in the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, the middle rung of the INDYCAR-sanctioned developmental stepladder. Following introduction of the Dallara IL-15 chassis to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires in 2015 and the pending debut of the Tatuus USF-17 chassis to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda in 2017, it will complete the updated chassis infrastructure throughout all three MRTI levels.
The PM-18 was unveiled at the INDYCAR display at the PRI show. Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions that operates the Mazda Road to Indy series, was joined in the unveiling by John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, and Chris Pantani, director of event marketing and motorsports for Cooper Tires.
“With this car now, we’ve completed refurbishment of the ladder,” Andersen said. “We knew the Indy Lights car desperately needed a change so we attacked that first. We were a little slower on the next two levels because of the cost to teams; the teams on these levels are bit more financially stressed than an Indy Lights team.
“Now with this car in ’18, we’ll be essentially state of the art in all three levels. The cars are phenomenal.”
The PM-18 is based off the platform of the USF-17 chassis from Italian manufacturer Tatuus, allowing a seamless transition for teams and drivers wishing to advance from USF2000 to Pro Mazda or compete in both. They share the same carbon and aluminum honeycomb monocoque, and meet FIA safety standards including side-impact panels, front and rear impact structures, wheel tethers and front bulkhead structure for oval racing.
Enhancements for the PM-18 over the USF-17 include more sophisticated aerodynamics with an adjustable dual-element rear wing, single-plane carbon fiber front wing with adjustable flaps, Pro Mazda-specific front and rear wing endplates, larger wheels and Cooper Tires. On top of that, a 275-horsepower, 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-PM18A engine – a step up of 100 horses over the USF2000 powerplant – has been developed by Elite Engines.
“It’s a lot of race car,” Andersen said. “That engine is unbelievable. They’re getting basically an Atlantic level race car for a lot less money than an Atlantic car used to cost. It will be a great transition into Indy Lights, too. This car is going to be fast and nimble and will blow the track records away for Pro Mazda.”
Andersen said prototype testing of the PM-18 will begin in March with the first 15 cars delivered in June, allowing teams to test in the summer. The second car shipment will arrive in the fall. The PM-18 will be in use for at least five years.
“We talk about providing value for our teams and drivers, and the PM-18 is a wonderful example of an affordable race car that is safe and fast,” said Doonan. “We’ve already seen the huge interest in the new USF2000 car for next year and we expect much the same for Pro Mazda in 2018.”