words: George Achorn, photos: Mazda
Following Audi’s departure from prototype racing in 2016, the very familiar faces of the former Audi efforts have landed in not-surprisingly prominent places throughout motorsport. This week before the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, it’s Oliver Jarvis’ turn. The British Audi Le Mans veteran joins Team Joest in a Mazda-backed prototype effort.
Joest had joined Mazda last year when all chances of any return (factory, independent or otherwise) with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro to FIA WEC had been exhausted. Mazda hiring Joest sent a message that the Japanese brand was even more serious about being a player in IMSA’s hard fought DPi field against the likes of Cadillac (another Audi alum effort thanks to former Audi of America boss and current Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen’s backing). Joest doesn’t contest a race simply to finish, and we’ve no doubt they’re a serious contender in this space.
Adding Oliver Jarvis is an equally solid move. Though Jarvis’ overall record isn’t quite as storied as say a Tom Kristensen, the Brit laid down a blistering pace. He’d made the cut when Audi dropped back to just two cars in his final years. We’re sure his star will shine at Mazda. While we know we’ll be cheering on the Audi GT squads next week, we’ll also be wishing Mr. Jarvis and his Joest teammates the best of luck in the prototype field.
Jarvis is just the latest in Audi Sport alumni who’ve landed new jobs for this season. Earlier this week we learned that Leena Gade was headed to IndyCar, and Andre Lotterer added a Rebellion LMP1 seat in FIA WEC to his already begun Techeetah Formula E ride now that he too has been left out of a factory seat following Porsche’s LMP1 departure.
Below is the full press release from Mazda.
BRITISH SPORTS CAR RACING STARS READY FOR DAYTONA 24 HOURS WITH MAZDA TEAM JOEST
Joining Mazda Team Joest for a full season in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, British drivers Oliver Jarvis and Harry Tincknell will make their Mazda race debuts at the world famous Daytona 24 Hours on the 27-28th January.
The race also marks the debut of Mazda Team Joest: a new collaboration that pairs the third-winningest car manufacturer in IMSA racing history with a racing team that has won the Le Mans 24 Hour race 15 times and taken two outright Daytona 24 Hour victories.
Mazda’s RT24-P race cars are entered in the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) category of this multi-class championship, competing for overall wins and championship success across the 10-race season. British drivers Oliver and Harry will be paired with long-standing American Mazda drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez, while for the four longest endurance races, the quartet of drivers will be supplemented by IndyCar racer Spencer Pigot and 2017 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) champion Rene Rast.
For the Daytona 24 Hours, Oliver Jarvis will join Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot in the number 55 car, while Harry Tincknell will be paired with Tristan Nunez and Rene Rast in the number 77 Mazda prototype.
“Mazda North America has had a driver development programme since 2007,” explained John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports North America. “So it’s a big part of our Mazda Prototype effort to feature drivers that have come up through the Mazda ranks, whether that’s in sports cars like Tristan Nunez, or the single seater route link Bomarito and Pigot. We’re thrilled that these guys are back with us again in 2018.”
Adding, “we were also able to recruit fast and winning drivers from Joest Racing’s recent history like Jarvis and Rast, and with Harry Tincknell, who has been successful in both GT and Prototype racing, these new guys are a great fit for our team.”
Joining Mazda after winning the LMP2 category at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jackie Chan DC Racing, Jarvis has extensive experience with Joest Racing , including overall victory in the 2013 Sebring 12 Hours, while Jarvis’ CV also includes a GT class win at the Daytona 24 Hours with Alex Job Racing.
In addition, Jarvis’ single seater career was marked out by winning the prestigious Macau F3 Grand Prix in 2007 and he was named McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year in 2005.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Mazda at such an exciting time. I have followed the project closely since the launch of the stunning RT24-P and I’m convinced that Mazda will be successful, so it was an easy decision when the opportunity arose to be part of the team. Having raced in and won both the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours, I know the IMSA series well and it’s always been a goal of mine to race in the championship full-time, and I don’t think there’s been a better time to be part of the series.”
Mazda’s other British recruit comes to Mazda Team Joest with a sports car racing career that already includes a European Le Mans Series title and Le Mans 24 Hour win in LMP2, plus a third-place finish in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE class. Like several of his Mazda prototype team mates, Harry Tincknell also had a sparkling career in single seaters before moving into sports car racing.
“I’m really honoured to be joining Mazda Team Joest, the whole Mazda team has put so much effort into developing the RT24-P, and after testing the car I can’t wait to see how we get on at Daytona. The car has taken huge strides over the winter and I immediately felt comfortable in it. The IMSA championship is very competitive and it will be a tough fight, but the spirit of the whole team is determined and we’re ready for it,” said Tincknell.
Developed for the 2017 season, the Mazda RT24-P race car has a Riley Mk.30 LMP2 chassis clothed in unique Mazda bodywork that features KODO: Soul of Motion design cues to create a dynamic and purposeful look, at the same time as delivering the aerodynamic performance needed for success on track. Powered by a Mazda MZ-2.0T turbo-charged engine developed by British firm Advanced Engine Research (AER), Mazda has also worked with Canadian based Multimatic to develop the chassis.
Over the winter Joest, Multimatic and AER have worked to extensively develop the RT24-P and the 2018 evolution of the Mazda prototype features a host of chassis, aerodynamic and engine upgrades, plus weight saving to enhance performance.
With a capacity field of 50 cars, the 56th Daytona 24 Hours takes place at Daytona International Speedway, Florida on the 27-28th January.