Mazda Team Joest has won its first Daytona Prototype international race in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, with a dominating run that saw the Soul Red Crystal Mazda RT24-Ps finish first and second at the Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen.
“This is the day we’ve been waiting for,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports. “We really felt that today could be our day, so we would focus on racing the other cars and not each other. But in that last half-hour, you listen to every click on the radio worried that something would come. To see that Soul Red Crystal Mazda RT24-P cross the finish line makes this such a special day. This is a group victory for the Mazda brand, and the people as well. I couldn’t be happier.”
The No. 77 Mazda RT24-P started the race at Watkins Glen International from pole position after Oliver Jarvis set a new course record for the DPi class in Saturday’s qualifying session. Jarvis led from the start, and both the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P driven by Jarvis, Timo Bernhard and Tristan Nunez, as well as the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P driven by Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito and Olivier Pla led throughout the first five hours of the race.
“Today was just about execution because we knew we had fast race cars,” said Jonathan Bomarito, a driver of the No. 55 RT24-P. “We just had to be perfect, and I think we were. This is the best moment of my career, because of all the people, time and energy that has gone into this program. The sense of accomplishment feels great.”
However, a caution period in the final hour negated their advantage and put the Mazdas in second and third position behind an entry from Team Penske. Tincknell, driving the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P for the final two stints of the race, executed a pass for the lead in turn eight and immediately built a several-second gap. At the final round of pit stops, Mazda Team Joest was able to maintain Tincknell’s advantage and complete Jarvis’ service in time to jump him ahead of the Penske into second place.
“We’ve done countless hours of sim work,” said Tristan Nunez, a driver of the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P. “All the drivers have trained so hard and the entire crew has worked hard to get the driver changes and pit stops perfect. It was a perfect race.”
When the checkered flag waved at the end of six hours of racing, Tincknell led Jarvis across the line by 0.353-second. Olivier Pla also recorded the fastest lap of the race, with a time of 1.29.657. The two Mazda RT24-Ps combined to lead 183 of 211 total laps at the Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen.
“The car was very good, the crew was very good, and I think the drivers were awesome,” said Timo Bernhard, a driver of the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P. “It all went to plan and this was a very satisfying day for everyone involved. You could see some tears from the mechanics, engineers, and management people so you know the pressure that was involved.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship is next weekend’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
“This win is for all the Mazda fans, the employees, the dealers and all the supporters all over the world,” said Harry Tincknell, a driver of the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P. “I have said all along that the first win will open the door to more and I hope that’s the case.”