Mazda Prototype Paces Rolex 24 Testing

Rolex 24
The Mazda RT24-P made its first official IMSA laps on Tuesday during Rolex 24 testing at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (IMSA Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After conducting a significant amount of private testing, two of the three current Daytona Prototype international manufacturers arrived at Daytona Int’l Speedway for an IMSA-sanctioned Rolex 24 test on Tuesday.

Tied for turning the most laps among DPi cars Tuesday around the 3.56-mile circuit was the Mazda RT24-P, which was first unveiled to the public during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

“It’s been so far so good for the new Mazda prototype,” said driver Joel Miller. “We’ve turned the most laps out of any of the DPi manufacturers today, so that’s always a good thing. Everybody has a lot of learning to do with the new package. It’s a clean slate for us all.”

The car spent most of Tuesday running relatively smoothly, so the team was able to focus on gathering copious amounts of data and continue learning the car.

“Every time we run the car we learn a ton, and Daytona is a different animal as well with the long straightaways and high loads in the banking,” said driver Jonathan Bomarito. “A few gremlins have shown their faces, which is good – that’s why we’re here. The team is working hard to fix those problems. It’s nothing that prevents us from testing, just things that we’re learning for the future.”

The Mazda DPi arrived at Daytona with a different appearance than what was seen at the L.A. Auto Show, wearing bare carbon fiber instead of a livery. Mazda also added dive planes to the front end, which were left off the car at the reveal as to not be in the way in the crowded convention hall.

Miller believes the new technology featured in the Mazda is a highlight of the driving experience, and is very excited to get the car on track. Bomarito agrees, feeling that coming from the team’s previous LM P2 platform gives the team a slight advantage over the former Daytona Prototype entrants, but there’s no guarantee.

“The other prototypes are run by very smart teams with very smart people, so it’s a tough call,” he said.

Also turning laps on Tuesday was Jeff Gordon, who is sharing driving duties of Wayne Taylor Racing’s new Cadillac DPi entry.