Another fire ends Mazda’s potential podium hopes at Rolex 24

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A near flawless race from the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P has gone up in flames, thus putting pause to Mazda Motorsports’ best hopes of a podium finish for the second straight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot shared the Soul Red entry, with Pigot running fifth when flames appeared out the back of the AER-developed, Mazda MZ-2.0T, the same 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine that raced last year.

The flames turned to more smoke on pit lane as Pigot brought the car into the pit box, and the crew extinguished the fire. Mazda confirmed via social media Pigot was OK, and it will diagnose the cause of the issue.

This will actually be the first expected retirement of the race among the 12 debuting Prototype cars, split between the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and 2017 LMP2 chassis, which means the reliability has been really good up to this point.

If this feels like deja vu all over again, it does, because at Petit Le Mans last year Pigot was also in a fantastic scrap with Simon Pagenaud, Ricky Taylor and others with hopes of a podium well within reach.

But with what looks like a similar fire out the back of the car, in the-then Lola Multimatic built chassis, Joel Miller limped into the pit lane as the car retired.

The agony of running this well, this long for Mazda – with the car otherwise only delayed by radio issues that caused Pigot to complete an improper wave by in the early hours – is why this GIF from the @IMSA Twitter account is entirely appropriate.

The No. 70 Mazda, in Machine Gray colors, continues although was delayed in the garage for nearly six hours with a gearbox change. Miller, Tom Long and James Hinchcliffe share that car.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.