Mazda’s John Doonan named as IMSA’s new president

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IMSA has named John Doonan as president to replace the retiring Scott Atherton.

Doonan had been the director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations since 2011, managing the manufacturer’s North American racing efforts. He will begin his new role Oct. 21.

“John is a fantastic choice to become our next president, to build upon the momentum of our just completed 50th anniversary season and take our sport to the next level,” IMSA chief executive officer Ed Bennett said in a release. “He is respected, well known in our paddock, and brings a strong passion for motorsport that will greatly benefit everyone involved.”

Here’s the release from IMSA:

John Doonan named IMSA President Seasoned Automotive Executive Joins Premier Sports Car Racing Organization

Daytona Beach, Fla. (October 15, 2019) – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today that John Doonan has been named the next president of the sanctioning body effective Jan. 1, 2020 with his first day on the job scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21.

Doonan was previously the director of motorsports for Mazda North America Operations where he developed the overall strategy and managed Mazda’s motorsports programs in North America.

“John is a fantastic choice to become our next president, to build upon the momentum of our just completed 50th anniversary season and take our sport to the next level,” said Ed Bennett, IMSA chief executive officer. “He is respected, well known in our paddock, and brings a strong passion for motorsport that will greatly benefit everyone involved.”

Doonan, who joined Mazda in 2003 as the regional advertising manager in the Midwest region and was promoted to the director of motorsports position in 2011, succeeds Scott Atherton, who last month announced his retirement as IMSA president at the end of the year.

While at Mazda, the program Doonan led was headed by Mazda Team Joest, which competes in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This IMSA program represents the pinnacle of the Mazda Road to 24, a program that provides drivers a clear ladder system from grassroots racing to the top level of sports car racing in North America.

The Road to 24 program features Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, a professional single make series which utilizes the latest generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. In recent weeks, Mazda also announced a new Mazda3 TCR car which will allow customer teams and drivers to compete in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge among TCR’s many other global championships.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime and dream opportunity after attending IMSA races since I was young boy,” Doonan said. “I am very humbled and truly honored to have the opportunity to join the IMSA team and I’m really looking forward to making a positive impact for our sport, our partners and our industry.”

Doonan earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration from Augustana College and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Western Illinois University. IMSA will kick off its 51st season with the 2020 Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 3-5. The 58th running of the season-opening Rolex 24 will take place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26-27.

John Doonan of Mazda (left) will replace retiring Scott Atherton as IMSA president.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III