IRVINE, Calif. – A combination of Mazda racing veterans and new faces with endurance racing pedigree will drive the Soul Red Crystal Mazda RT24-Ps in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this season.
Mazda Team Joest delivered their best result of last year in the final race, with a second and third place at Petit Le Mans. Carrying that momentum into the off-season, the team has furthered its goal of delivering success for Mazda with its selection of drivers.
In the No. 55 Castrol Mazda RT24-P, Jonathan Bomarito returns for his eighth season racing with Mazda and will partner with Harry Tincknell, both of whom made up the primary driving pair in that car in 2018. For the Michelin Endurance Cup races, Olivier Pla will round out the driving lineup.
Pla, who began his career in open wheel racing and advanced to GP2, is a race winner in the World Endurance Championship and drove to a victory in IMSA’s Petit Le Mans in 2016.
“I’m really delighted for the opportunity to join Mazda Team Joest for the endurance races at this very exciting time for the DPi category and the IMSA championship,” said Pla. “The level of competition is extremely high but looking at the very strong to the end of the season Mazda had in 2018, I just can’t wait to race and fight at the front in 2019. I’ve known Harry for a long time, we have wanted to share a car for a long time, and now I’m really happy to be in the Mazda RT24-P with him.”
Tristan Nunez and Oliver Jarvis will return as the primary drivers in the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P. Though he is the youngest driver of the team at 23 years old, Nunez will begin his seventh season of driving for Mazda. He and Jarvis teamed for podium finishes in the 2018 season at Mid-Ohio and Petit Le Mans.
The two will be joined for the Michelin Endurance Cup events by endurance racing star Timo Bernhard. A Porsche works driver, Bernhard is a two-time champion in the World Endurance Championship and a three-time champion in the American Le Mans Series.
He has scored three victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and five wins in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, as well as triumphed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Recently, Bernhard reset the lap record at the Nürburgring in the Porsche 919 Evo.
“I have a great memory with Team Joest as we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together back in 2010. I have known John Doonan from Mazda for almost ten years, from the ALMS days, and I have always recognized the passion for motorsport that Mazda has shown,” said Bernhard. “The Mazda RT24-P showed great progress over 2018 and was a strong contender at the end of the season. Sharing the car with super teammates like Olly and Rene … who I know well, as well as my new teammate Tristan, made the package very interesting and I was very enthusiastic to join Mazda Team Joest while continuing my program with Porsche.”
At the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, Rene Rast will also return to the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P.
Behind the pit wall, longtime Joest Racing team engineer, Jan Lange, has been promoted to CEO of Mazda Team Joest and assumes leadership of the day-to-day operation of the team.
Motorsports veteran Chris Mower has also joined Mazda Team Joest as Team Coordinator, operating the team’s base in Atlanta, Ga.
“There is no question that that the level of competition in IMSA continues to rise every year,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “Class rule separation between the DPi and LMP2 cars mean some adjustments heading into 2019, so everyone at AER, Multimatic, and Mazda Team Joest have been working extremely hard to be prepared with our two Mazda RT24-Ps. The cars have performed incredibly well throughout our winter testing program and we are very much looking forward to kicking things off at Daytona.
“We’ve stated from the beginning that our goal is to achieve success for Mazda, Mazda’s dealers & employees, and ultimately the Mazda fans around the world. With this car, and this lineup of drivers, we are poised to make that happen in this 50th year of IMSA competition,” Doonan added. “As a partner with IMSA for nearly all of those 50 years, Mazda is excited to make some new history in the 2019 championship.”