Mazda Motorsports has announced that Team Joest is set to take over the reins of its Daytona Prototype International programme in a multi-year deal– replacing the Speedsource outfit which currently runs it – and will make its debut as Mazda Team Joest at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona next year.
This news comes after the Speedsource-run Mazda team has failed to win a race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year – the first for DPi competition – or in the three seasons prior that it has represented Mazda at the helm of the IMSA series. Instead, Team Joest, fresh from Audi Sport’s LMP1 exit, will be racing with the team full time from next year.
Because of this change, Speedsource will not finish this IMSA season as Joest begins its 2018 preparations with testing, initially in Europe with a modified version of the current RT24P, starting in August.
There’s no word as of yet, on which drivers will race with Joest next season, or whether any changes will be made to Mazda’s current Riley-based DPi for next season. The four full-season drivers for this year (Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long) will be involved in the testing programme though.
“The creation of Mazda Team Joest provides us a unique opportunity to partner with a team with proven success in the prototype ranks, and gives us the best chance to return Mazda to the top step of the podium,” Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations said.
“I welcome the Joest family to the Mazda family, and I’m convinced that, together, we will write many more pages in the book of Mazda racing successes.”
“We are excited and proud about this new opportunity with Mazda,” added Ralf Jüttner, managing director of Joest Racing. “Mazda has such a long tradition in motorsport and, especially in America, has created a huge platform for racing enthusiasts.
“For us, this is not only a return to American racing, which we have always enjoyed, but also great news to the big group of our Japanese fans, who have always warmly embraced us.”
Director of motorsports at Mazda North American, John Doonan said: “This is an important moment in Mazda Motorsports history as we align our brand’s top-level sports car racing program with one of the best sports car teams of all time.
“What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner and the entire Joest Racing organization have accomplished is not likely to ever be matched. We are very excited to work with them to put Mazda in victory lane and to strive for more championship trophies, adding to the substantial Mazda and Joest Racing legacies in the years ahead.
“I want to thank our long-time partners at SpeedSource Race Engineering and owner, Sylvain Tremblay,” he continued. “We accomplished a great deal with their organization at all levels of the sport for more than two decades.
“They are a perfect example of a team that has grown through our Mazda system: from grassroots club racing, to Rolex 24 race-winning efforts in GT and then on to the Prototype program. Friendships in our sport run deep and we certainly don’t see that changing.”
Mazda Team Joest will soon begin testing the Mazda RT24-P in preparation for next season. The production-inspired bodywork treatment developed in concert with Mazda designers will remain, as will the turbocharged four-cylinder, 2.0-liter inline Mazda MZ-2.0T engine which produces approximately 600 horsepower, developed by Advanced Engine Research (AER).
Multimatic Motorsports, of Markham, Ontario, Canada, which was heavily involved in the creation of the Mazda RT24-P, has taken the lead to refine and improve the chassis, and will work closely with Joest in testing and simulation work.
Joest Racing, based in Wald-Michelbach, Germany, will establish a North American headquarters for the race team in Atlanta, Georgia.