World Speed Motorsports announced today that it will be entering Michael Whelden in the 2016 Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires Championship. “Michael has won multiple championships with our team,” noted World Speed Principal Telo Stewart. “He’s fast and focused, and we’re glad we were able to get this program together in time for Sebring. We have been wanting to compete in the series for a while now, and this was our first opportunity to do it with the right team members.”
“We’ve competed in IMSA races for many years,” added WSM Communications Manager Mark Milazzo. “We’ve podiumed multiple times in the GT3 Cup Challenge, and won countless races in the Formula Mazda series when it was under IMSA sanctioning. The Elan DP-02 car is a new car for us, but it is in many ways similar to the one-off Mazda Rotary Prototype we built in 2009 to compete in the RDC 4 Hour Endurance races. We won that event in 2009 and 2010 against some very serious competition. We are excited to get racing, but we know that there will be a big learning curve for us and also Michael, who has never been to Sebring.”
Whelden had this to say, “I am thrilled to be back behind the wheel full time this year. After a lot of hard work this last year I am going to compete in the Mazda Road to 24 in the Mazda Prototype Lites series. My ultimate career goal is to go to Le Mans, and the Mazda Lites series is my first big step in that direction. It’s great to have World Speed Motorsports on board for the campaign, we have accomplished a lot together over the years. Keep an eye out because it’s gonna be an exciting season!”
World Speed has been racing and winning in Mazda powered vehicles every year since they first hit the track in 1991, and all of Whelden’s previous championships have also been powered by Mazda. “Mazda is pleased to be the new title partner of the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports at Mazda North American Operations. “For many drivers, it is a first step into high-speed, high-downforce Prototype cars, which is why it is a part of our driver development ladder system, the Mazda Road to 24. Mazda advertisements say ‘Driving Matters,’ and this series is a great example of that idea. With the Mazda power, Cooper Tires and Élan chassis all being equal, the driver is the key element to victory. Driving does matter.”
Whelden and WSM will be on track for the first time in a DP-02 on March 15h at Sebring International Raceway.
2016 Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires Schedule
- March 16-18 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida
- June 30-July 2 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York
- July 8-10 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario
- Aug. 26-28 VIRginia International Raceway, Danville, Virginia
- Sept. 9-11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California
- Sept. 28-30 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
- NOTE: An additional event weekend and venue will be announced at a later date.