The principals of Mazda Team Joest have shown that their methods work. Can they benefit the club racer?
One of Joest Racing’s basic tenets is that success is not a question of luck. This credo comes from real world experience, as Team Joest – now running the Mazda RT-24P in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as Mazda Team Joest – has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 15 times, not to mention scoring victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Those successes illustrate that Joest does things right. But while club racers rarely have access to the resources that a professional team in a top-flight championship does, there are methods that can be applied to the amateur side, and Ralf Jüttner, managing director of Mazda Team Joest, was happy to share some tips.
Arrive Ready to Go: “The first thing – and it’s something we didn’t do at Daytona – is you arrive at the racetrack, open the trailer, take the car out, and that’s it,” Jüttner explains. “You do not start putting new parts on the car once you are at the racetrack. Sometimes you have an issue and cannot avoid it, but that is not the standard. The standard should be that the car is prepared.
Practice Changing Parts: “Just like we do pit stop practice, we did parts changing practices – especially for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and longer races with hot cars. We changed quarter suspensions, we changed turbochargers…whatever you can come up with that has been a problem in past races, you try to organize. You have your set of tools ready, you know who is doing what. You just practice it like normal pit stop practice,” he says. While the club racer doesn’t typically have the budget to practice changing parts, when common replacement parts need changing, think about changing it at the track and doing it in the quickest, most efficient way possible so that you’re not thrown when you need to do an emergency replacement.
“It’s about routine and having the spare parts prepared and the tools and everything organized so you can minimize the chaos that comes up at a race when something happens out of the normal,” Jüttner adds.
Don’t Chase Changing Conditions: “Don’t start to fiddle around during practice sessions, which can be misleading. Always make sure you’re not chasing changing conditions. If you have a warm-up at 8 o’clock in the morning and your race is at 2 in the afternoon, you don’t need to adjust your car [after the cold warm-up]. You might end up with a big disaster when the race starts. You have to keep calm and know what you are doing.”
Mazda Team Joest’s last race at the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach resulted in a fourth-place finish for Tristan Nunez and Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 RT-24P. The No. 55 car of Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell and Spencer Pigot led at Sebring and was in the hunt for victory when a clutch and battery issue led to a stall after the final pit stop. The next chance for the team will be at Mid-Ohio on May 4-6.