Nunez and Bomarito. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Nunez: Revised Mazda ‘so confidence-inspiring’ after Daytona test

Leave a comment

Mazda Team Joest undertook its first official test on U.S. soil with the heavily revised Mazda RT24-P at Daytona International Speedway this afternoon, with four Mazda regulars behind the wheel.

Full-season drivers Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez and Joel Miller were joined today by Mazda endurance driver Spencer Pigot at the first U.S. running of the updated car, which has had extensive revisions now under the Joest partnership announced earlier this summer.

Nunez received a bulk of the driving work today as a proper 22nd birthday present, and couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the updated car run on the Riley Multimatic base chassis.

“It feels completely different now. It’s so confidence-inspiring to see the changes made to how it is on track. It’s a completely different car,” Nunez told NBC Sports.

The car was a lot more responsive and predictable to handle at the 3.56-mile Daytona “roval,” Nunez said.

“It seemed like the car was a lot more compliant. It’s easier to drive. It wasn’t doing anything ‘evil,'” Nunez admitted.

“You knew what it’d do, and it did it every time. At times before, you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. Now it’s a lot more confidence-inspiring.”

While the initial testing of the revised Mazda had been done in Germany at Hockenheim, and a further test got done at Donington Park by Bomarito shortly thereafter, this marked the first time the fusion of both the Mazda and Joest entities were running together on U.S. soil.

That meant the respective entities have had more time to mesh and gel, beyond the team-bonding and team-building that has occurred earlier this year.

“They’re a top level team and they understand that one of the biggest parts of being a team is getting to know everyone on a personal level,” Nunez said of Joest.

“We’re all working with each other to the max capabilities. We’re all getting along great. And they all knew it was my birthday, so that was a great start! We’re building trust and friendship. That’s exactly what needs to be done.

“If you talked to John (Doonan, Mazda Motorsports chief), the smile on my face, was from ear to ear – that alone was seeing what how hard everyone has worked, what they’ve done, it’s the first real official test of the new setup. It gives us a lot of hope leading into the season and finishing on top.”

The test is the first in a two-day test at Daytona this week, with more to come tomorrow.

“They made a good plan of attack so we all got decent time. But I got a ton today, birthday boy and all,” Nunez deadpanned.

Mazda wasn’t alone testing today, as per IMSA, Audi also tested its new R8 LMS GT4 car this afternoon.

While Mazda has not confirmed its driver lineup for 2018, it’d be a surprise if at least two of Mazda’s 2017 drivers aren’t retained in full-season roles next year, if not more.

Photos and quick videos from Mazda of today’s test are below.

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

IMSA
2 Comments

FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter