On Wednesday, Mazda Motorsports announced the group of six men who will race the new Mazda RT24-P in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It is a group of familiar faces.
In the No. 55, Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez will drive for the full season. They will be joined by Mazda Road to Indy graduate Spencer Pigot will be in the car for at least Daytona. Depending on his schedule with potential races in the Verizon IndyCar Series, more of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races are possible.
Nunez is pumped for the upcoming season.
“I could not be more excited to get the season started,” Nunez said in the press release. “There have been quite a few rules changes [such as the DPi category] that I am sure will make for an exciting race. As for the drivers, to be paired with Jonathan [Bomarito] again is such an honor. I have learned so much from him, and I’m looking forward to another year alongside him and being under the Mazda tent with Joel [Miller] and Tom [Long] for the full season. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better group! As for the additional guys we’ve got for Daytona, I don’t think the team could have made a better decision on who will complete the team. Spencer [Pigot] did an incredible job for us last year in the No. 55 on and off the track, and to have James [Hinchcliffe] and Ben [Devlin] back is a dream come true. I believe we’ve got what it takes to win, and I’m so excited to show that this season!”
In the No. 70, the duo of Joel Miller and Tom Long will return for their second full year together. For Daytona only, they will be joined by Verizon IndyCar Series regular James Hinchcliffe. For Hinchcliffe, this will be his fifth start in the Rolex 24 with Mazda Motorsports (previously referred to as SpeedSource). Hinchcliffe has only finished the race once. That was back in 2012 when he finished sixth in GT in a Mazda RX-8. At that time, the Rolex 24 at Daytona was part of Grand-AM’s Rolex Sports Car Series.
Finally, veteran racer Ben Devlin has been retained (for now) in just a testing role. He’ll be at Daytona this weekend to drive both cars and give his input. The press release does not indicate whether or not Devlin will race either one of the RT24-P’s this season, but a drive in one of the non-Daytona Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races is not necessarily out of the question.
Hinchcliffe is excited about getting a chance to race the new Mazda RT24-P.
“It’s great to be back behind the wheel at Daytona,” Hinchcliffe said in Mazda’s press release. “It sucked sitting out last year’s race, but my focus at the time was getting myself back in shape for the [Verizon IndyCar Series] season. Coming back to Mazda and SpeedSource, where I’ve done all of my races at Daytona, is like coming home and I can’t thank Sylvain [Tremblay, SpeedSource owner] and John [Doonan, Mazda Motorsports director] enough for the chance. I can’t wait to be working with everyone there again, to get my hands on the new car, and try and deliver a win for Mazda.”
The two Mazda RT24-P’s will be in Daytona this weekend for the Roar Before the 24. The car has had cooling issues in previous test sessions. Mazda Motorsports that they have rectified the issues and can put down some good lap times.