On Wednesday morning, Mazda Motorsports announced the formation of Mazda Team Joest. The new organization, which will be run by Joest Racing, will be the new Mazda factory program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Prototype class.
Mazda Motorsports are very bullish about the future with Team Joest.
“This is an important moment in Mazda Motorsports history as we align our brand’s top-level sports car racing program with one of the best sports car teams of all time,” said John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner and the entire Joest Racing organization have accomplished is not likely to ever be matched. We are very excited to work with them to put Mazda in Victory Lane and to strive for more championship trophies, adding to the substantial Mazda and Joest Racing legacies in the years ahead.”
Joest Racing’s resume is impeccable. The team has 16 overall victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two came with Porsche 956 chassis in 1984 and 1985. Two came with the TWR Porsche WSC-95, an open cockpit prototype based on the closed-cockpit Jaguar XJR-14. Another came with Bentley in 2003 with the Speed 8. The other 11 all came with Audi.
Joest Racing replaces SpeedSource, which has served as Mazda’s operation of choice for their factory operations since 2013. Those operations started with the diesel-powered Mazda6s that ran in the Rolex Sports Car Series’ GX-class. After the Grand-Am/ALMS merger was complete, SpeedSource raced diesel-powered prototypes before switching to a 2.0-liter AER powerplant. The 2.0-liter stayed in place when the team moved to the new Mazda RT24-P (based on the Riley Mk. 30) for this season.
While Doonan recognizes that SpeedSource’s time as Mazda’s factory outfit is now over, they will still maintain a strong relationship with the team.
“I want to thank our long-time partners at SpeedSource Race Engineering and owner, Sylvain Tremblay,” Doonan continued. “We accomplished a great deal with their organization at all levels of the sport for more than two decades. They are a perfect example of a team that has grown through our Mazda system: from grassroots club racing, to Rolex 24 race-winning efforts in GT and then on to the Prototype program. Friendships in our sport run deep and we certainly don’t see that changing.”
Relieved of the factory program, SpeedSource’s future in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is unclear at best.
The current Mazda RT24-P chassis will be retained for 2018, along with the AER engine. However, with SpeedSource’s time as the factory team for Mazda now complete, the RT24-Ps will not race for the rest of the season. The team will undertake an extensive testing program for the rest of the 2017 season designed to prepare them for 2018. The four full-time Mazda factory drivers (Jonathan Bomarito, Tom Long, Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez) will be involved in the program. However, it is unclear whether any of the quartet will be back full-time next season
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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