Mazda Motorsports begins a new era today with the creation of Mazda Team Joest, which will be the factory Mazda Prototype race team competing in the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship under Daytona Prototype international rules. The team will make its racing debut at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
Joest Racing is one of the most successful endurance sports car teams in history, with 16 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans plus multiple wins in prestigious North American races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, ten wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and six titles at Petit Le Mans. Joest found much of its success as the factory team for Audi from 1999 until the manufacturer ended the program after the 2016 season. Prior to that, Joest Racing had multiple Le Mans victories with Porsche, and was the factory team for Opel in DTM, the German touring car series. The German company was created in 1978 by then-factory Porsche driver Reinhold Joest.
“We are excited and proud about this new opportunity with Mazda,” said Ralf Jüttner, managing director of Joest Racing. “Mazda has such a long tradition in motorsport and, especially in America, has created a huge platform for racing enthusiasts. For us, this is not only a return to American racing, which we have always enjoyed, but also great news to the big group of our Japanese fans, who have always warmly embraced us.”
John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, recognizes the new pairing as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“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,” said Doonan. “What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner and the entire Joest Racing organization have 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.”
Mazda Team Joest will soon begin testing the Mazda RT24-P in preparation for next season. The production-inspired bodywork treatment developed in concert with Mazda designers will remain, as will the turbocharged four-cylinder, 2.0-liter inline Mazda MZ-2.0T engine which produces approximately 600 horsepower, developed by Advanced Engine Research (AER).
Multimatic Motorsports, of Markham, Ontario, Canada, which was heavily involved in the creation of the Mazda RT24-P, has taken the lead to refine and improve the chassis, and will work closely with Joest in testing and simulation work. The four current Mazda Prototype drivers will participate in the testing and development, but the 2018 driver lineup is yet to be determined.
Joest Racing, based in Wald-Michelbach, Germany, will establish a North American headquarters for the race team in the Atlanta area.
Press release courtesy of Mazda Motorsports