IMSA victory, SCCA Majors and NASA
The big news in Mazda Motorsports this week is the domination of the Mazda Team Joest RT24-P prototypes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen. The team finished one-two, with the No. 55 driven by Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito and Olivier Pla taking the victory over the polesitting NO. 77 of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Timo Bernhard. The victory was the first for Mazda in IMSA’s top Daytona Prototype International category.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said John Doonan, director, Mazda Motorsports, following the race. “We’ve been close but we never gave up – that’s the Mazda philosophy, to never stop challenging. The goal was to put it on the top step for the fans, the people who drive Mazdas, the people that race Mazdas, the people who sell them, and for all of the corporate staff in Japan, the United States, Europe and the rest of the world. This is the day we’ve been waiting for.
“We really felt that today could be our day, so we would focus on racing the other cars and not each other,” Doonan continued. “But in that last half hour, you listen to every click on the radio [and] worried that something would come. To see that Soul Red Crystal Mazda RT24-P cross the finish line makes this such a special day. This is a group victory for the Mazda brand, and the people as well. I couldn’t be happier.”
Of course, many other Mazda racers were in action this weekend, including in SCCA, where two U.S. Majors Tour events were happening, one in Texas and the other in Georgia.
At Circuit of the Americas, the Lone Star GP brought out a host of competitors braving the Texas heat. Several Mazda drivers were rewarded with double victories, including Paul Pineider driving an RX-7 in E Production, Tyler Quance in Spec Miata, Liam Snyder in Formula Enterprises 2, and Lee Rackley in FE. Quance also scored a win in Touring 4 in an NC MX-5, but mechanical trouble on Sunday gave the win to L. Lowell Huston, whose MX-5 crossed the finish line less than a second ahead of Sergio Zlobin in an RX-8. David Burkett and Nathan Ratton split victories in Formula Mazda, and Amir Ali and Dave Zavelson, both in Pro Formula Mazdas, traded Formula Atlantic wins.
On the East Coast, at Georgia’s Roebling Road Raceway, five Mazda drivers swept the weekend: Charles Mactutus in Spec Miata; Bailey Monette in Formula Enterprises; Kerry Jacobsen in Formula Mazda; Spencer Brockman (Swift 014-Mazda) in Formula Atlantic; and Michael van Steenburg (Miata) in Super Touring Lite.
Jeff Dernehl and Stacy Wilson split GT-3 wins in two different generations of RX-7. Taking wins on Sunday were Raymond Philibert with the STU win in his Miata, Don Ahrens (Miata) in F Production, and Jean Luc-Liverato taking Prototype 1 in a Mazda-powered Elan DP02.
Farther West, NASA Rocky Mountain was in action at Pikes Peak International Raceway, where Daniel Williams’ sweep of the weekend in Spec Miata was spoiled in the second race by Matthew Dirks.