Mazda Team Joest recently completed a very successful two-day test session at the Daytona International Speedway, home of the season’s first (and biggest) race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It was the first test on American soil for the new version of the chassis that has undergone an extreme makeover, improving its performance and handling dramatically. Testing serves to prove the speed and reliability of those changes and hones the effort of the crew and drivers.
The new Mazda Team Joest aims to reestablish the brand at the front of the field in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by pushing hard to perfect the sleek Mazda RT24-P race car, which features many of the same KODO—Soul of Motion design elements as the passenger vehicles.
Joest has won the overall title at the Rolex 24 while Mazda has 22 class victories at the twice-around-the-clock classic, but this year’s race will mark their first together as they take on competitors such as Acura (with Team Penske), Cadillac, Nissan and more. Bringing four decades of Joest’s winning results – and the new, improved race car – has meant a jolt of energy for Mazda drivers Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito.
“It’s a whole different ballgame now,” said the 22-year-old Nunez. “For the past couple of years, we got better and better, but now we’re really going to be in the fight for victories and the championship. For me, it’s something I have to step up to mentally and physically. I’m stepping up my training and trying to better myself in every aspect of my career.”
Bomarito, who teamed with Nunez the last three seasons, shares the same motivation.
“You have a renewed drive inside of you,” Bomarito said in the Mazda garage at the Daytona test session. “You know everybody’s working 110-percent flat-out, and you don’t want to let anybody down or be the guy who isn’t working 110 percent. So, in your training and mental preparation in every aspect of what we do as drivers, it gives you that little extra drive to push yourself harder and be more focused.”
“Racing is unpredictable,” said Nunez. “When you’re fighting for the lead in the championship, you have to be prepared for anything. That challenge inspires me to better myself. The Mazda family always inspires me to be better and to better myself. To get better in every aspect of my life – professional and personal. Every day, I have to push harder and get stronger.”