Mazda Motorsports has announced Mazda Team Joest’s full driver line-up for the upcoming 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, which will see three new drivers pilot its updated RT24-P DPis (pictured above testing at Donington Park).
Competing for the team in the full 10-race season will be long-time American Mazda drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nuñez, and two newcomers to the team, Oliver Jarvis and Harry Tincknell, who bring extensive experience in sportscars to the outfit.
In addition to the full-season quartet, Mazda has also announced that 2017 DTM Champion Rene Rast and IndyCar racer Spencer Pigot will join them in the car’s third seats for the long-distance NAEC rounds at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.
Both Bomarito and Nuñez – who have been racing together in Mazda’s IMSA programme for the past few years (Nunez since 2014 and Bomarito since 2015) – are delighted to be returning to the cockpit for the new era of Mazda in IMSA’s prototype class with Team Joest.
“Whether you’re a young driver or an accomplished driver, the dream is to align yourself with a manufacturer,” said Bomarito (below). “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.”
“It’s a continuous dream come true,” 22-year-old Nuñez continued. “Sometimes you think ‘there’s no way that could happen to me,’ but it’s really cool to see where I’m at now. Things just keep getting better and better. I signed on with Mazda when I was 17-years old.
“Some guys don’t get to be on a factory team at all, so I got really lucky, especially now with the new partnership with Mazda Team Joest. I grew up watching Joest and all the success they had with their previous manufacturer.”
Jarvis, new to Mazda, returns to Joest after he spend multiple seasons racing with the German outfit during its Audi Sport LMP1 years (below, right), racing hybrid R18s in the FIA WEC.
“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.”
Tincknell meanwhile, joins the team for the first time after spending the last few seasons with Nissan (developing its GT-R LM NISMO), Jota Sport in the ELMS and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK in the FIA WEC, finishing runner up in this year’s GTE Pro title race.
“I am really honored to be able to race for Mazda Team Joest this season in the WeatherTech Championship,” added Tincknell. “The whole Mazda team has put in so much effort and made a lot of progress in every area, and after my first test in the car I can’t wait to see how we get on at Daytona.
“The Mazda RT24-P DPi has taken huge strides over the winter and I immediately felt comfortable in the car. I know the championship is very competitive and it will be a tough fight, but the spirit of the whole team is so determined and ready for it.”
Like Jarvis, Rast (who has already tested the Madza with Joest) also has experience working with Team Joest, the German also part of Audi Sport’s LMP1 programme.
“I worked with Joest Racing in 2015 and 2016, and I enjoyed every single day with their team,” said Rast. “They are one of the most professional teams I have worked with and the atmosphere is always very relaxed but focused.
“Obviously its a big honor driving for Mazda and one of the most successful endurance racing teams on this planet. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is always one of my favorite races of the year and I can’t wait to hit the track again. Racing after a long winter break is always great and that’s also what I look forward to the most.”
“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.”