Rest in peace, gorgeous racecar.
Ever since the RX-8, Mazda has shown the world that, besides the MX-5 Miata, it can't really make cool cars anymore. Sure, there are some segments where Mazda stands out and shows that it knows how to build a fun chassis, but on the whole, its range is rather boring. To help inject some sportiness into the brand, particularly in America, we were expecting to see a hardcore track version of the popular Mazda 3 hatchback. Unfortunately, the program hit some roadblocks this year and now has reached the end of that road - the Mazda 3 TCR program is officially dead.
Mazda had partnered with Long Road Racing to build the new race cars, thus continuing the relationship the two brands fostered with the MX-5 Cup cars. Unfortunately, Long Road Racing folded rather suddenly in January, prompting Mazda to delay the TCR program until 2021. However, with huge global economic downturn, turnover for automakers has dropped, racing events have been greatly reduced, and all these factors have meant that building a race car for teams that may not even be able to secure sponsors in this economic climate is pointless. The Mazda 3 TCR is therefore limited to just the one prototype model.
This was confirmed in a statement given to Grassroots Motorsports Magazine by Mazda USA's communications & experiential marketing director, Emily Taylor: "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."
Presumably, the single prototype will live in a Mazda museum unless things change drastically over the next year. It's a sad development but it highlights the impact that the global pandemic has had on every industry. Still, if you really something with a TCR badge, Volkswagen makes a roadgoing hyper-Golf.