What began as a sketch from Mazda designers at the Mazda Research & Development facility in Irvine, California became what is regarded as one of the most beautiful modern-day Prototypes – the Mazda RT24-P.
The shapely race car, which competed for the first time at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, 2017, delivered two podium finishes in 2017 and three more in 2018. There were also numerous chances of victory that slipped away from the team.
That changed on Sunday, June 30 at the Six Hours Of The Glen when the Mazda RT24-P delivered its first victory for Mazda. Not only a victory, but a 1-2 finish at the end of six hours of racing to put an exclamation mark on a dominating weekend for Mazda Team Joest. Driver Oliver Jarvis reset the Daytona Prototype international track record in qualifying, and Olivier Pla set the fastest lap of the race.
The two Mazda RT24-Ps combined to lead 183 of the 211 laps completed.
In the closing stages of the Six Hours Of The Glen, both Mazda RT24-Ps were in second and third position, behind the leading Acura Team Penske entry driven by Juan Pablo Montoya. Harry Tincknell, tasked with bringing the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P to the finish, had a daunting challenge ahead of him to retake the lead.
“I tried to pass him once around the outside in turn eight, but not many people get around the outside of Montoya,” said Tincknell. “It was ‘win it or bin it’, as we say in England, but luckily I managed to get it done. I was not going to settle for second place. I find that when you 95% commit, that’s when you have a shunt. You must have 100% commitment. When I found an opportunity, I 100% sent it. You’re not going to pass someone like that without a fully committed move.”
Ticknell, who shared the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P with Jonathan Bomarito and Pla, crossed the finish line just ahead of the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P driven by Timo Bernhard, Jarvis and Tristan Nunez.
In many ways, the victory closed the door on a long window of frustration for Mazda Motorsports which scored its last victory at the highest levels of sports car racing in 2013. Bomarito, whose relationship with Mazda began in 2005, is the driver with the longest ties to Mazda Motorsports.
“I came up through the ranks of the Mazda ladder system,” said Bomarito. “In 2008, I got a call from John Doonan to compete in the 24 Hours of Daytona in a Mazda RX-8. What a dream. Like a lot of people, I owe my professional racing career to Mazda. My dream to be a race car driver since I was a little kid has been fulfilled. This win is the best moment of my career, because of the people, time and energy that has gone into this program.”
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “We have been close so many times, but we never gave up and that’s the Mazda philosophy – to never stop challenging. The goal was to earn the top spot on the podium for the Mazda fans, the people who drive Mazdas, the people who race Mazdas, and the people who sell Mazdas all over the world. It’s the day we’ve been waiting for.”