Mazda took a dominant 1-2 in the rain-delayed return to racing for the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championships Daytona 240 yesterday evening with the #55 Mazda RT-24P of Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito claiming the win ahead of the sister #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez.
In a race delayed by 40 minutes due to lightning just before the scheduled start, the Mazda calls, and pace, proved to be the right ones, a great start to the new era at the team with Multimatic now at the helm.
Early evening rains had left the track still wet in several sections, but with no more rain expected, some teams elected to start on Michelin rain tyres while others gambled on slicks – The Mazdas did the after and it paid off in terms of both track position and time gained on track.
The #55 dominated most of the second half of the race, taking the lead for the final time at the end of the pit stop sequence with just over 30 minutes remaining.
Tincknell took the checkered flag 10.168 seconds ahead of Jarvis to win the first WeatherTech Championship race since January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. It was his third career win in the series and Bomarito’s ninth in IMSA competition.
“The build-up to this event was obviously tricky with the quarantine period and all the regulations in place,” Tincknell said. “We knew with only 15 crew including drivers, we didn’t have enough for a pit-stop helper.
“We practised it meticulously, and it worked absolutely fine. I had plenty of time to do my belts up after JB buckled me in. To be honest, it was like clockwork like most of the weekend. Literally a dream stop for everyone.”
“From the first practice yesterday, after four or five laps, we could see we had the pace,” said Tincknell. “We had the car all weekend, narrowly missing out on pole (started third) but we knew we had good race pace. Jonathan did a fantastic job. Honestly from the time I got in the car, all I had to do was to bring it home cleanly. He had done all the work for me so it was fantastic.”
“Man, what an amazing day it was for us,” added Bomarito. “Being at Daytona feels amazing… being under the lights… dealing with the changing conditions we were able to push through it all, stay on the road and keep a clean car and bring it home for the win.”
There were three other leaders throughout the 2 Hour and 40-minute race, late substitute driver Gabby Chaves led early on in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and both Penske Acuras took turns in the lead too, the pole setting #7 car though would fail to finish, a mechanical issue forcing the car into pit lane and then retirement before the halfway mark.
“It was a great start to the day for the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 team. Winning the pole position at Daytona is always special,” said Helio Castroneves.
“I thought the car had a good pace to start on the wet tires, but once we came in to put on the dry Michelins the handling just started going away, especially late in the run. The vibration started during my stint but it never really got worse. Unfortunately, when Ricky (Taylor) got in the car it was clear that it was pretty significant. Again, it’s unfortunate but we will move on to Sebring. That should be an interesting race with the July heat.”
It would be the #5 Mustang Sampling machine from JDC-Miller MotorSports shared by Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais that completed the podium in third though, ahead of the surviving Acura.
“Joao did the tough part today in the wet early,” said Bourdais post-race. “When I got in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac it was dry. The race went green the whole way and we really didn’t have the speed to compete with the Mazda cars today. We will look forward to Sebring.”
Pics courtesy and copyright IMSA/ Levitt Michelin USA/ Dole