At last year’s Detroit Grand Prix at the Belle Isle Street Course, the Mazda Prototype team scored third- and fourth-place finishes in the Prototype class. This weekend, the goal is to improve upon those results in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, a one-hour, 40-minute sprint race that takes the green flag this Saturday at 12:40 pm ET for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship..
The 2.3-mile, 14-turn street circuit presents a number of challenges for the drivers.
“Street circuits are naturally treacherous with the walls being right there,” said Jonathan Bomarito, driver of the No. 55 Mazda Prototype. “This race is so short, your mindset is wide-open all the time. Sometimes that means you’ll get into some wall issues. For [teammate] Tristan [Nunez] and I, our podiums have come from street courses so hopefully Detroit is good to us.”
Bomarito and Nunez scored a podium finish earlier this year at the Long Beach Grand Prix – also a street circuit.
“We were competitive at Long Beach with the lap times, and hopefully that translates this weekend,” said Tennessee native Bomarito. “There are some similarities [between Long Beach and Detroit], though they are two pretty different street courses. Detroit is bumpier, so it’s a fine line to have ride-height control on the car but not have the suspension too stiff. If you can find a good mechanical setup and ride-height control, you’ll definitely have an advantage.”
A constant theme this year in the WeatherTech series is the challenge of battling with traffic among the different classes on-track at the same time.
“Every track we go to is tough to pass because the performance of the cars are so close,” Bomarito said. “It’s historically hard to pass, so qualifying is very important. The key is to manage traffic and have good pit stops to keep yourself up-front the whole race.
“There are some areas to pass,” said Bomarito. “But there are a few segments where you just have to follow [slower traffic], and that can be a big time loss. But, everybody has the same issue, and it moves through the course of the race. You might get held-up a few laps, but then the others might have the same issues a few laps later and you really close the margin.”
Mazda Prototype Team Driver Lineup
No. 55 (Soul Red): Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito
No. 70 (Machine Gray): Joel Miller, Tom Long