Photo: Mazda

IMSA: Mazda updated livery released; JDC-Miller, CORE add drivers

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The news keeps coming in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for 2018, in its marquee Prototype class.

On Wednesday, a day after Mazda Team Joest revealed its new-look lineup, it revealed its new-look “evo” Mazda RT24-P in its “Soul Red Crystal” livery. All but Rene Rast of the six drivers were on site with the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Photos and the updated logo are below.

Photo: JDC-Miller Motorsports

The JDC-Miller Motorsports team has signed its first driver to its second Oreca 07 Gibson, with Swiss sports car and open-wheel veteran Simon Trummer confirmed in the team’s No. 84 entry. Trummer has tested for the team in Sebring, and comes off a four-year FIA World Endurance Championship stint with the Lotus, ByKolles and CEFC TRS Manor teams.

“With the team moving to a two-car program in 2018, we felt it was important to include someone like Simon to our program that knows the car and fits very well into our program on a personal side. When he tested with us at Sebring he was right up to speed for being at the track for the first time while also driving on a new tire. More importantly, he fit right into the entire group, it was like he had been with us all year,” said team principal John Church.

Trummer added, “I have always wanted to race in the US and IMSA at the moment is for sure very attractive with all the new cars and manufacturers joining the championship. JDC-Miller had an incredible season in their first year competing in Prototype and when they decided to expand to a two-car program for 2018 we started discussing the possibilities of doing something together.”

Of note here is JDC-Miller listing No. 84 for its second car, a number that was listed on the D3+Transformers Racing Ligier at Road Atlanta.

CORE autosport has stacked its lineup for its prototype return, its debut in the top-flight Prototype class, with team regulars Jon Bennett and Colin Braun joined by Romain Dumas and Loic Duval at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Dumas passes up a drive at the Dakar Rally for a drive at the Rolex, as he makes his return to the race for the first time since 2013 (GT class with TRG). Surprisingly, next year’s Rolex will be Dumas’ first start in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since the GRAND-AM and ALMS series came back together prior to 2014.

“I’m really happy to go back to Daytona. For a long a time I’ve been looking to come back, but Dakar is always at the same time. This year, as soon as I get the opportunity with CORE, I decided not to do Dakar,” he said.

“Loïc and I were teammates at Audi in 2012 and as soon as I heard it was a possibility for him to be part of the team, I was very enthusiastic. We live very close to each other—eight miles away—so we have a good relationship. It was clear when I spoke with him that we are there to achieve the best result and we are old enough to understand that we are here for the team and that’s very important for Daytona.

“I drove this car [ORECA 07 Gibson], this year at Le Mans with Alpine and at Spa. I know it’s a very cool car. I think its pace will be pretty good. I know we have a lot of competition ahead of us. First, we have to do our own race, without looking at everyone else, then the race will come to us if we are doing a good job.”

Duval made his Rolex debut in an identical car last year with DragonSpeed and now links up with his longtime friend and colleague, Dumas.

“The main thing I know about CORE is they are the GT factory team for Porsche and to be honest that is about it. I spoke a little but with Romain and he explained to me about how professional the team is. It wasn’t a surprise though, because when you are a factory team for Porsche it means a lot already. I knew that the team was first class,” he said.

“I’ve been doing some testing back in Europe and I was racing in Bahrain in WEC in the ORECA. It’s definitely good training for me because I will not race any car from now to Daytona, so I’m quite sharp in the LMP2 ORECA, which for me also makes a lot of sense to be fully fit for Daytona.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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