By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Mazda Team Joest confirmed its 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lineup Thursday with former NTT IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay being among the headlining drivers.
Hunter-Reay will participate in the Michelin Endurance Cup, piloting the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P. He’ll be joining co-pilots Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell, who’ll be sharing the ride together for the third straight year.
The INDYCAR veteran drove the No. 55 entry at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year, finishing third overall. Hunter-Reay said that the moment he strapped himself into the Mazda, he found an instant connection with the entire race team.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Mazda Team Joest for the 2020 IMSA endurance races. I filled in for Harry at Mid-Ohio last year, teaming up with my buddy Jonathan Bomarito, and from the first practice I knew the car really suited my driving style,” Hunter-Reay said. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the whole team – it’s a first-class effort all around. We capped off the weekend with a double-podium for Mazda and I’ve been eager to get back in the RT24-P ever since. I’m excited for what this team is capable of in 2020, and I’m ready to get to work!”
Team Joest’s 2019 campaign was highlighted with its shortcomings, such as the disastrous Rolex 24, where trouble beckoned the team.
Their rotten luck would change in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen when Bomarito, Tincknell and Olivier Pla (who’ll run the endurance races in the No. 77 car, once again co-driven by Olivier Jarvis and Tristan Nunez) proved that they’re a force to be reckoned with by winning the race in New York.
Their win began a three-race winning streak as the following race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, the No. 77 team of Jarvis and Nunez were victorious.
Bomarito and Tincknell would be on the top step of the podium once more at Road America and eventually finished sixth in the final standings.
“I’m really looking forward to another year of tough racing in the IMSA Daytona Prototype international class,” Bomarito said. “I can’t thank Mazda enough for the opportunity to represent them and hopefully we’ll have another great season. We have some good momentum to build off of and I’m sure that will show in 2020 as we fight for the championship.”
Tincknell feels 2020 will be a championship campaign and having Hunter-Reay will boast the team well, knowing what he accomplished at not just Mid-Ohio, but throughout his sporadic sports car racing career, highlighted with an overall Petit Le Mans triumph and class win at Sebring.
“I’m delighted to be back with Mazda Team Joest In the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P for a third season alongside Jonathan,” Tincknell said. “We’ve built up a fantastic relationship and shared some great moments together, including our victories at Watkins Glen and Road America. I’ve absolutely loved racing in IMSA during the past two seasons and being a part of Mazda’s journey from some near misses to dominant race winners.
“It Is great to welcome Ryan to the car for the endurance races. His resume speaks for itself and he did a great job filling in at Mid-Ohio In 2019. I feel like the first year of Mazda Team Joest was a learning year and last year was a winning year. I firmly believe that, with all the hard work and effort that has gone into the program over the winter to make the Mazda RT24-P faster and more reliable, 2020 can be a championship year. I can’t wait to get started at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.”
Mazda Motorsports’ Director Nelson Cosgrove commented that Team Joest’s strong lineup and teamwork has him excited with the 24-hour season opener at Daytona commencing January 25-26.
“It’s a great honor to lead this program into its fourth season, and this is the season that I think will be pivotal for Mazda Team Joest,” Cosgrove said. “The program’s first season was clearly a learning year, while last year the program learned how to become a race winner. 2020 is the year that Mazda Team Joest contends for an IMSA championship.
“The pieces are already in place with one of the strongest driver lineups in the championship and a car, engine and technical package that has a lot of potential left in it after winning three times last season.”