With a new team running the program, a radically changed Mazda RT-24P and a new driver lineup, hopes for Mazda Team Joest were high for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the first round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Things unfortunately didn’t go as planned, but the team has regrouped, continued testing and expects to be ready for the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.
“The issues we had at Daytona were unexpected,” says John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “We tested there for nine days starting in late October, early November, including all the IMSA-sanctioned tests, and we tested at Sebring for three days. In total we had 14 test days between Europe and the States, so the issues we saw at Daytona were very frustrating because they were all new things that we had not seen during testing, which is pretty hard to believe from that standpoint because of how much time we put in.
“At the same time, like any top-level program, we’ve had to look at every issue [and] come up with a set of solutions, and fortunately we were able to go to Sebring at the IMSA test and validate all of the nagging issues we saw at Daytona. We’ve not been blessed with good luck, but there’s no time to cry in our soup. We’ve got to regroup, address the issues, and be ready for the next event at the 12 Hours of Sebring, so there are no excuses,” he continues.
“Nothing has changed with regards to our goals. We go to the track to win,” Doonan notes. “We have been quick. We proved that during practice during Rolex 24 week. We need to put results on the board for the Mazda brand as soon as possible, and that’s everybody’s focus. That’s everybody from Multimatic, to the team, to the Mazda Motorsports staff, to the engine guys. Everybody is at least pushing and pulling in the same direction with that singular focus in mind.”
Doonan credits chassis developer Multimatic for the progress so far, noting that they’ve transformed the race car and put all hands on deck when any issue has popped up. He also points to Joest’s experience as a reassuring element in the program.
“They’ve won it all, they’ve lost it all, they’ve seen failures, they’ve seen successes,” Doonan says. “When you bring that kind of experience, there’s a calm about them. They typically have shown me that they’re ready to address things methodically. I hope they can bring some of their success mojo and sprinkle it on the program as we go forward through the rest of the season.”