IRVINE, Calif. – Mazda Motorsports has announced the team of drivers that will pilot the two Mazda RT24-P race cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Mazda Team Joest.
Racing under the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) rules package, this is the first season for the combination of Mazda and Joest Racing.
Competing for the championship in the 10-race season will be long-time Mazda drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nuñez, both Americans, who will be joined by British racers Oliver Jarvis and Harry Tincknell, who both join Mazda for the first time.
For the four longest endurance races, the quartet of drivers will be supplemented by IndyCar racer Spencer Pigot and 2017 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) touring car champion René Rast. The driver combinations for each car have not been set, as the team continues a busy testing schedule ahead of the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January.
“Mazda has had a driver development program since 2007,” explained John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “So, it’s a big part of our Mazda Prototype program to feature drivers that have come up through the Mazda ranks, whether that’s in sports cars like Tristan Nuñez, or the open-wheel side of things with Bomarito and Pigot. We’re thrilled that those superb young men are back with us again in 2018.
“Working with Joest, we were also able to secure fast, winning drivers from their recent history, which makes Jarvis and Rast a good fit, as is Tincknell, who has been successful in both GT and Prototype cars,” said Doonan. “We ask a lot of our drivers outside the car as well, so it’s great to add drivers who will fit the chemistry of what we hope to achieve as a team.”
Bomarito won the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT category, driving a Mazda RX-8. Bomarito, who grew up in Monterey, Calif., won the 2003 USF2000 open-wheel championship, was a race winner in the Mazda-powered Atlantic Series, and nearly won the 2014 IMSA GTLM drivers championship before his stint in the Mazda Prototype began in 2015.
“Whether you’re a young driver or an accomplished driver, the dream is to align yourself with a manufacturer,” said Bomarito. “So, I can check that box with Mazda. Second, it’s best to be with a good manufacturer, and I check that box with Mazda. Look at their involvement in motorsports history. It’s a really hard industry to find stability, so I’m glad to be with one of the heavy hitters in IMSA. And now, to be aligned with a team like Joest and their history with the sport, it’s great. Their experience, their professionalism and attention to detail is already showing. It’s huge for any driver to be with Mazda Team Joest and I’m proud to be one of them. I’m looking forward to 2018. I think we’re going to have some big improvement and it’s a very exciting time.”
Jarvis joins Mazda after winning the LMP2 category (and nearly winning overall) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jackie Chan DC Racing in 2017. He finished tied for second in the season-long LMP2 class of the FIA World Endurance Championships (WEC), and has extensive experience with Joest, including an overall victory at the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring and multiple podiums at Le Mans. Jarvis has a GT class win at the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona with Alex Job Racing.
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Mazda at such an exciting time,” Jarvis said. “I have followed the project closely since the launch of the stunning RT24-P and I am convinced that the project will be successful. It was an easy decision when the opportunity arose to be part of it. Having raced in and won both the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours, the IMSA championship is one I know very well. It has always been a goal of mine to race in the championship full-time and I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be part of it as the championship continues to grow.”
Source : speedsport.com