When Mazda Motorsports mounted its Prototype effort for racing in IMSA competition in 2014, it worked with longtime partner SpeedSource. It also made the rather dubious choice to power its Lola prototype chassis with a four-cylinder SkyActiv turbodiesel engine in a field of cars with larger-displacement gasoline engines.
The effort was — in hindsight, of course — doomed from the start, and by 2017, Mazda Motorsports had split with SpeedSource, dropped its diesel engine program and the Lola chassis in favor a new Riley chassis, a new team partner Joest and a turbocharged Mazda MZ 2.0T engine, which creates 600 horsepower.
By December 2017, SpeedSource was ceasing operations and selling off its equipment and the three Lola chassis that were used in the IMSA program, which is where JFC Racing comes into the picture.
“We went down and spoke with Sylvain (Tremblay, owner of SpeedSource), saw the three cars and walked the warehouse for two days, looking at spare parts and everything that was there,” said Roberto Pardo, Operations Manager for JFC Racing. “We settled on which chassis we liked, which was MM08. To us, it seemingly had been the spare chassis for the team, so it had the least amount of race time on it. It had some of the newest components that we were going to retain such as the gearbox, control arms and things of that nature.”
JFC Racing wasn’t concerned with any of the engine parts because it was not going to use them. Under the circumstances, they’d be foolish to use the four-pot diesels. The team was going with something far more powerful and much more interesting.
The JFC Racing V8 uses cylinder heads from a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine and a block that is machined from a single piece of billet aluminum in house. The CNC process takes about 40 hours and requires repositioning the block a few times.
In naturally aspirated form, it makes 460 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. With a redline of 10,500 rpm and power figures like that, the engine makes a pretty convincing case for itself.
But in this case, JFC Racing decided to turn it up to 11, so to speak. By adding twin Borg Warner turbochargers, JFC increased output to 785 horsepower and 505 pound-feet of torque shifted at 9,000 rpm for peak torque and greater longevity in races like the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, where we photographed the car.
“The whole goal of JFC Racing is to sell these engines. The Lola is a fantastic car and a great way for us to showcase our engine,” Pardo said. “That’s the whole reason behind it, to continually improve the product that we sell.”
The MM08 you see in these photos was the last Lola chassis made by MultiMatic and the build details are as staggering as the photos.
Because the engine is so compact, it fit pretty well where the inline four-cylinder was. The weight is comparable, too. The JFC V8 weighs just 200 pounds. JFC designed a new oil pan and dry-sump system to get the crankshaft centerline down to where it needed to mate with the transmission. The bigger challenge was packaging everything else around it and compensating for the heat made by the turbos.
That meant putting a radiator, oil cooler and intercooler in each side pod. For the exhaust, stainless steel didn’t hold up, so the team went with headers and exhaust tubing custom made from Inconel by Michael Furick. The headers also are wrapped with an Inconel bag. For lubrication of the engine and turbos, the engine uses a six-stage Dailey Engineering dry sump system.
“There’s a pressure section, three scavenge sections, a turbo scavenge section and then an air-oil separator,” Pardo said. “Then on the other side of the car, the left-hand side, there’s a water pump that’s behind a second turbo scavenge.”
The air snorkel atop the cockpit was previously used for feeding cold air to the engine, but because the air intakes are located in the side pods, JFC divided the opening of the scoops used to cool the rear brakes and directed some of that cold air to custom air boxes that sit down low in the side pods. That freed up the top snorkel for cooling engine components, with six individual ducts in all.
“We have a really good composites guy that was able to fabricate this big duct that would allow us to distribute the air everywhere we needed it on the chassis,” Pardo said.
Two of the ducts direct fresh air inside the header bags. Two more direct air to the two starters, which are not far from the exhaust and turbos. A single duct cools the alternator on the left side of the transmission and the shift actuator on the right of the gearbox.
The car is a massive tangle of plumbing, but somehow JFC Racing makes it all work. The car led the 2019 race early on and put up the fastest lap of the race that year, but a failed fuel pump and clogged fuel filter sidelined the car for a few hours. The team had the parts it needed to fix it, but that put the race out of reach.
The engine makes enough power that the team set up with the car with maximum downforce, which helped greatly in the 2019 race, which was a rain-soaked, sloppy mess.
After the 2019 race, the team pulled the car all the way down again and went through it, including the engine. The goal was to campaign it in 2020, but of course, then 2020 happened. Or didn’t happen, more accurately.
“We’ve got a video and some pictures on our website of tearing the engine down after the 25-hour, and the bearings still look brand new,” Pardo said. “In fact, everything went together just exactly as it came apart. Whenever we’re able to get back to racing in the car, we’re going to continue the hour clock on it. We’re sitting at about 45-hours of race time now and everything is looking fantastic.”
In terms of suspension settings and adjustments, the team stuck with the four-way-adjustable Multimatic DSSV shocks. When Multimatic took over Lola, the company put its suspension team on the job to adapt its components to the Lola chassis. JFC Racing picked up all those parts in the “fire sale” from SpeedSource.
“Every corner has high-speed and low-speed bump and rebound. We were able to really dial in exactly what we needed,” Pardo said. “The biggest factor for us, while speed is important, was making the car drivable for 25 hours. Getting the car so that all four drivers are comfortable and knowing how the car is going to react was key. It might not be the best setting for each individual driver, but as a whole, as the community of drivers, it led us to create a car that was very easy to drive for everyone.”
Development of the JFC Racing V8 engine continues with the goal of selling them for naturally aspirated or turbocharged applications. One thing is clear for this car, the engine provides it with more potential now than its previous power plant ever could.
For more information on the JFC V8 visit jfcracing.com.
|Weight:||2,000 lbs. with driver|
|Engine/Horsepower:||2.8 liter JFC twin-turbo DOHC V8/785 hp/505 tq|
|Transmission:||Xtrac P1059 six-speed sequential|
|Suspension Front:||SLA Double wishbone, Multimatic DSSV shocks|
|Suspension Rear:||SLA Double wishbone, Multimatic DSSV shocks|
|Tires Front:||Michelin LMP2 Spec 30-65-18|
|Tires Rear:||Michelin LMP2 Spec 31-71-18|
|Brakes Front:||AP calipers, carbon/carbon|
|Brakes Rear:||AP calipers, carbon/carbon|
|Data system:||Life Racing ECU, Motec ADL3, Motec Dash|
|Sponsors:||Jackson Dean Construction, Borg Warner Turbos|