One of the most successful teams in endurance sports car racing is returning to IMSA competition in a big way next season. In a surprise announcement this week, Mazda Motorsports announced the creation of “Mazda Team Joest” to become its new factory Mazda Prototype team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beginning with the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The announcement brings Joest Racing – which has amassed 16 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 10 victories in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, six Motul Petit Le Mans victories and two Rolex 24 At Daytona wins – back to top-level endurance sports car racing. The team created in 1978 by Reinhold Joest most recently operated the Audi factory prototype team from 1999 through 2016.
“If ever there were a benchmark example of a top-level prototype endurance sports car racing team, on a global scale, Joest Racing is it,” said IMSA president Scott Atherton. “We are thrilled to welcome what now will be known as, ‘Mazda Team Joest’ back to North American sports car competition.
“The Joest organization has had considerable success in North America in the past and we have every reason to expect that to continue with this new alliance with the Mazda DPi program. On behalf of IMSA, we offer our congratulations to all involved.”
Mazda Team Joest will begin an aggressive testing program in August on racetracks in Europe and North America, utilizing the four current Mazda Prototype drivers: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long. The driver lineup for 2018 is expected to be confirmed before the end of the 2017 WeatherTech Championship season.
“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,” added John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner (Joest Racing managing director) and the entire Joest Racing organization has 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.”
The team will work closely with Multimatic Motorsports to refine and improve the Mazda RT24-P Daytona Prototype international (DPi) chassis, which will continue to be powered by the 600-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder, 2.0-liter inline Mazda MZ-2.0T engine developed by Advanced Engine Research (AER). Joest Racing is based in Wald-Michelbach, Germany, but plans to establish North American headquarters in the Atlanta area later this fall. The aggressive testing and development program means that Mazda will forego the remaining three rounds of the 2017 WeatherTech Championship to prepare for the 2018 season.