Mazda Team Joest will see yet another massive reshuffle prior to the 2019 IMSA season as they look to achieve high goals for the Prototype program.
In 2018, the well-established Joest Racing organization decided to shift their focus to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the John Doonan-led Mazda DPi effort with the goal of elevating the Mazda Prototype program to a position of similar prominence that Joest enjoyed with their previous prototype effort.
Prior to their IMSA endeavor, Joest Racing had teamed up with Audi to stand as one of the dominant figures in the World Endurance Championship, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans an impressive seven times in nine years.
With 2018 being the first season of Mazda Team Joest competition. The focus of change was largely placed on the car and Joest Racing using their immediate wealth of prototype design and functionality with the goal of improving reliability and race pace. Both had been a challenge for Mazda in previous seasons.
The changes being brought to Mazda Team Joest for 2019 include the now former lead technical director, Ralf Jüttner, being called back to the Joest factory in Germany to receive another assignment. Jan Lange is set to take over the role of team management duties for 2019 and into the future for the team.
The personnel changes keep on coming with two new race engineers joining the organization. Veteran to the sports car racing world, Dave Wilcock, is set to take charge of the #55 Mazda with Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell serving as the two full-time drivers of it.
The #77 Mazda will also be receiving a new race engineer with Leena Gade bringing her experience of being the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Audi Sport Joest in 2011. More recently, she is known for her unfortunate time in IndyCar during which time she served as the race engineer for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe, who failed to qualify for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. The #77 Mazda will feature Tristian Nunez and Oliver Jarvis serving as full-time drivers for the 2019 season.
The personnel additions keep on coming with Chris Mower joining the organization as team coordinator. Mower brings an extensive career’s worth of experience in open-wheel racing to Mazda Team Joest. Finally, the team are set to bring in Audi Sport veteran Brad Kettler to serve as a consultant at the 24 Hours of Daytona and possibly into the future.
It’s not hard to see that Mazda Joest Racing are now looking to fill their racing staff with experienced members. Mazda director John Doonan had this to say about the personnel changes for the 2019 season, according to RACER.
“Ralf again continues to be part of the Joest racing family and his experience certainly won’t be put by the wayside but Jan has played a similar role with Audi, and it’s perfect opportunity to put more attention on the program here in the States. In addition, Chris Mower has been brought on — massive experience, so he and Jan, they’re getting on very well. Chris is now positioned in the Atlanta headquarters. I haven’t been this confident — cautious confidence — going into a season in many years because of the personnel that are leading. It’s all about people and process.”
Doonan, who has always been one of the more optimistic faces in the IMSA garage went on to add the following, according to RACER.
“But really I’m pleased with Dave joining as well as Leena and again thankful to Larry and Raj and everybody on the Multimatic side for being willing to invest so much to see this program have success.”
Will the ends justify the means with Mazda Joest Racing growing as the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship continues a golden age of team entries and growing spectator crowds?
In 2019, Joest look to double down on their commitment to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with changes being brought to the team with the season set to kick off soon from Daytona Beach, Florida. The new mix of experienced staff members will not have to wait long, as the first major IMSA test comes on Friday, January 4 at Daytona International Speedway. Not long after, the main event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 24th. Race coverage of the 24 Hours of Daytona will be shown on NBC Sports Network at 2:00 p.m. ET as well as on IMSA.TV and the IMSA app.