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Juttner: Joest ‘Must Improve’ After Challenging Mazda Debut

Ralf Juttner says Joest must learn from its Mazda DPi debut at Daytona…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Mazda Team Joest managing director Ralf Juttner says they must build on the positives, and address the shortcomings exposed in an incident-filled Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Neither of the heavily revised Mazda RT24-Ps made it to the finish in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, prompting the Joest-run operation to push for improvements before the next round at Sebring.

While the team did show improved pace, lapping Daytona 3.3 seconds faster than last year’s best time and topping the first Rolex 24 practice session with Rene Rast, Juttner admitted Mazda Team Joest’s debut proved more difficult than he had anticipated.

“I was happy that we at least got 16 hours of running with both cars; that was the good thing. The bad is that we clearly ran into systematic problems,” Juttner told Sportscar365.

“A lot of things happened that haven’t happened before and they didn’t happen on one car but both at a similar time. There were waste gate problems, exhaust problems, electrical… We had these funny complete shutdowns in the cars.

“Sometimes for two or three seconds, sometimes for eight, nine, ten seconds, complete power out and then it was there again and that included power steering.”

The persistent electrical glitches ultimately forced the No. 77 Mazda out of the race, while the sister No. 55 car was retired earlier after an exhaust failure and a resultant fire.

Juttner said the team would regroup to address the problems before the IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring next month.

“I don’t know what the solution will be,” he said. “We will see together in the next days and discuss it. Probably we will go [to Sebring] maybe with only one car with the improvements in to try to sort those out.

“I don’t know. We will discuss it, involve partners, but we have to improve.

“We have to now really identify our problems, address what works on it to fix it, and to try to fix it because we don’t need to go to drive around. We need to fix this on some important areas.”

Juttner, however, said the silver lining for the team was the improved pace of the car.

“One other good thing is that at least at stages the speed was not bad,” he said. “That gives a bit of hope. If we were nowhere with speed and unreliable then it would be really difficult. But that didn’t look too bad at stages.

“Not at a constant enough basis, but there were stints where we were running the pace of the leaders. There were other stints where we were a bit slower, but that was positive.”

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Slicks in the wet

    January 30, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Expected

  2. Matt

    January 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Lol

  3. FLB

    January 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    AER next to be gone? Mazda has a big Relationship with them (Indy Lights).

    • Lugnutz

      January 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      Engines out lived the chassis. All issues were team or chassis.

      • Matt

        January 30, 2018 at 3:09 pm

        Exhausts are part of the tub now are they?

        • Slicks in the wet

          January 30, 2018 at 3:33 pm

          Well.

          I hate AER, too.

          But electronics and waste gate failures are kinda hard to blame on them.

          • AJ

            January 30, 2018 at 4:03 pm

            The wastegate is a proprietary wastegate supplied by AER and the team does not have other choices. Same goes for the ECU, ignition coils, sparkplugs etc.

          • Slicks in the wet

            January 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm

            AJ

            Right right…but the engine internals didn’t fail.

            The wastegate is just another consequence of insane exhaust temps because of insane boost requirements that Mazda is asking of it.

            I didn’t know they had to use AER electronics though. Thought they could slap some MOTEC in there. Sucks.

          • Brandon

            January 31, 2018 at 7:52 am

            AER owns Life Racing, so that’s more than likely what they use. Life makes some really nice stuff, so I wouldn’t hate on them too much.

      • Enough of AER

        January 30, 2018 at 4:24 pm

        This car had several DNFs in the past, when was the last time they blamed it on the engine? They aren’t allowed to and always blame it on something else like an oil cooler, belt, or some BS excuse.

        • Slicks in the wet

          January 31, 2018 at 2:32 am

          Good point. PR demands every real failure to be deemed “electrical.” We’ll never know the truth.

    • kv

      January 30, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      THIS AER IS tempermental and needs to be replaced by a v6tt! OH BTW THE THING IS GOOD LOOKING BUT HANDLES LIKE A PIG !

      • anotherexpertheardfrom

        January 31, 2018 at 8:04 am

        Handles like a pig? How the hell would you know?

        • AJ

          January 31, 2018 at 12:20 pm

          Maybe he knew that up until the recent steering rack update by Multimatic the drivers always complained about understeer with the car. The original rack was too slow causing the understeer feeling which in turn had an impact on driver confidence.

  4. fourloko

    January 30, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    i commented back when mazda finished their testing and said did they fix the blowing up issue yet? clearly not.

  5. Kurt

    January 30, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    So SpeedSource was clearly not the problem. Surprise. Joest having a wheel come off after a pit stop, more fires, and engine/electrical issues all sound like the same issues of the past. Chassis constructor/engine mfg sound like the real issue, that’s hard for any team to fix.

    • Muttatonic

      January 30, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Sylvain probably feels some consolation from this.

      • Slicks in the wet

        January 30, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Still wish he would have given a “sign off, thanks everyone” statement.

        • John Jr.

          January 30, 2018 at 4:26 pm

          Mazda recruited Joest at the 24 hour race in 2017. They didn’t even wait and see what Sylvain and Speedsource could achieve. They don’t deserve it.

          • Slicks in the wet

            January 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

            Except SpeedSource struggled with build reliability and race management since stupid GX class Mazda6 cars.

            Now. Joest literally looked just as bad this week though.

            But SpeedSource had many chances to show they could run a top flight program.

          • Steven

            January 30, 2018 at 5:09 pm

            Mazda recruited Joest as their last hurrah. If Joest Racing can’t turn this into a winning program. I feel Mazda will be pulling the plug on this experiment.

    • KV

      February 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      THE MAZDA is a modern day NOVI !

  6. Mike S.

    January 30, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Yeah one would seem to believe now if the majority of the problems aren’t fixed by midseason that it isn’t the team principal. Acura has no problem picking up and getting into the mix. Nissan and Mazda seem to struggle.

    • anotherexpertheardfrom

      January 31, 2018 at 8:06 am

      Nissan won Petit, so they ain’t doing that bad.

      Also, NASCAR keeps dinging them on boost.

      If you look at this years BOP for Daytona versus 2017 Daytona, the Nissan has even less boost than last year.

    • Jack

      January 31, 2018 at 11:12 am

      yea Acura has been developing there engine for years. It’s the same engine that won 3/4 of the enduro’s in 2016. Whole Mazda has been using a engine from the old alms program that was known for not finishing long races.

      • LM GT1

        January 31, 2018 at 2:01 pm

        True. There are plenty of positives That the program is heading in the right direction. I don’t think AER Can fix this engine problems.

  7. vanilla chinchilla

    January 30, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Just make an Rx-9 and go back to GT

    • Pete

      January 30, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Just put a screaming rotary in the DPi. Then at least if it doesn’t finish it will be glorious until it dies.

      • Slicks in the wet

        January 30, 2018 at 3:32 pm

        AER has no relevancy to current Mazda engines.

        Rotaries have no relevancy to current Mazda engines.

        Therefore..

        PUT A DAMN ROTARY IN!!!

  8. JD

    January 30, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    It’s very possible that the project is so far into disaster that not even Joest can turn it around and make it competitive without scrapping everything and starting over.

    • Matt

      January 30, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      I think the AER engine and electronics need to go at this point. They need to start over with a clean sheet in that department.

    • DEJ

      January 31, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      I am starting to believe Doonan has a lot more voice in this project than Joest. Because this project is still stuck in the diesel mindset.

  9. jrw

    January 30, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Sounds as if Joest should simply outsource car improvements to the comments section, save time and money.

    • Slicks in the wet

      January 30, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      We’ve been giving out great advice to Mazda for like years man. Lol lol lol

    • Jettrd

      January 31, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      Hot air and bad advice are free

  10. Jose

    January 30, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    The Gibson Riley with Bar1 out ran the Mazdas and the 90. Now that’s funny

    • Gabe

      January 31, 2018 at 1:39 am

      And the ESM Ligiers haha.

    • David

      January 31, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      Yeah! I reminded my buddy Eric Lux of that. He said the car has no mechanical grip at all and is 5 mph slower. Their engine is 100 times better. The Gibson engines did not fail at all in the race.

  11. N8

    January 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    24 hours for this powerplant seems like a bridge too far. Focus on finishing Sebring, then show what the car can do in the shorter races.

  12. southcove

    January 30, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Was there a sanctioning commitment Mazda had with the current chassis manufacturer or could they have gone Onroak or Oreca or even the Dallara that the Caddy has done so well with?!

    Not sure that even the bright minds at Joest have the ability to overcome the package that Mazda has dealt them.

    Mazda needs success and fast after all the mediocre years.

    • John

      January 30, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      I believe they have to remain with the Riley/AER package for the duration of the homologation period.

      (Unless they were sponsored by WT. J/K! The first thing that came across my mind after seeing the WT commercials during Daytona was whether they’d have to recut them at some point this season to replace the Ferrari shots with something else, LOL)

      I have faith in Joest, but keep in mind that they’re probably not working with the same sized budgets they had with Audi.

    • gmfansblow

      January 31, 2018 at 8:03 am

      Southcove, Caddie success is due to the humongous engine, not the Dallara chassis. If the chassis was that good, it would be outrunning the Orecas and Ligiers in WEC and ELMS, so stop with the “Caddie has the best chassis and package” crap that others have posted.

      • Sol Shine

        January 31, 2018 at 10:25 am

        Correct. Caddy has been exploiting the engine rules since day 1. With the full knowledge and support of Nascar, er, Imsa. Generous Motors is the favored car maker of Nascar, always has been and always will be.

        Make them run a package consistent with the rest of the field, small displacement 4 or 6 with a turbo. Caddy has access to modern engines, why they let them run a dinosaur pushrod 2 valve V-8 rooted in 1957 is beyond me. Other than Nascar rewards its friends who reward Nascar in some way, shape or manner.

      • GMhatersSwallow

        January 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm

        Thats funny. Data shows you are wrong. Acuras had the advantage in the high speed sectors at Daytona, while Caddie excelled in the twisty bits. But dont let facts change your conspiracy theories! What else you got?

        • CJ

          February 1, 2018 at 5:41 am

          The Cadillacs had a higher minimum wing angle imposed in BoP, so they had more drag on the fast bits. The Acura, having a lower rear wing angle had less drag (less downforce, more on that in a moment) and a slightly higher top speed on the oval.
          The Cadillacs have a lot more torque from the tank engine in the back and get better traction out of the corners, additionally the higher downforce imposed in BoP gave them greater cornering speed in the twisty bits.
          Overall lap times were near enough, there wasn’t a GM conspiracy this year folks; AXR just lasted to the end with less issues and penalties than the rest of the prototype field.

  13. David

    January 30, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    They must feel pretty stupid ditching the diesel for that AER garbage I’m suprised AER doesn’t stand for Another Early Retirement. I’m sure with Joest running the show that skyactive diesel would put up a lot better fight. Plus it’s an engine that Mazda actuality puts in production cars.

    • j_c

      January 30, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Nah, the Skyactiv-D’s reliability was only marginally better than the MZR-T, and with only 450hp it was also much slower.
      GT cars were always close to overtaking it.

  14. Slicks in the wet

    January 31, 2018 at 2:40 am

    That’s the craziest rant on here.

    Bring back the diesel?? That burned turbos and melted pistons? That has no better economy? That was slow revving? Really??

    The diesel they had was pure trash. Like. Way worse in every category than the AER.

    They went from no chance to maaaaaybe when they dumped that lump.

    It wasn’t like Audi/Puegeot diesel tech lol.

    Also. This is a North American series. Which diesel does Mazda put in production vehicles here??

    • Brandon

      January 31, 2018 at 7:56 am

      And the AER I4 in the Lola chassis was pretty potent the latter half of 2016.

  15. Mazda Greg

    January 31, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    I am not a car geek, just a fan watching from the outside. As a proud owner of a Mazda I hope Joest can get this on the right track by the end of the year. Otherwise someone at Mazda has to ask WTF, our reputation is on the line here. People like me who don’t know all the inner workings or a race team will begin to ask why are they not competitive, and altimately who should be held accountabe. It doesn’t look at this moment Joest is in any better luck with this program than Speedsource. I will not past judgement on them til they hit the shorter races, but wheels coming off and cars on fire is not good PR.

    • AJ

      January 31, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      It’s sad because it feels like Mazda has really dropped the ball when it comes to it’s unwillingness to react and change. With SpeedSource they were insistent on the diesel race engine using 50-60% OEM parts. Valuable time was wasted forcing this approach as it was evident early on that the factory head and block could not withstand the 250+bar peak cylinder pressure.

      The choice of AER as engine supplier was another head scratched given their history with Dyson as well as recent disappointment with Rebellion in LMP1.

      Choosing a chassis manufacturer that has NEVER designed a prototype car was another poor decision which lead to SpeedSource receiving the first Riley chassis in late November. This meant no time to test and fix any issues before the 2017 season.

      During the 2017 season Riley and Multimatic certainly didn’t help much with car development. The updated cooling package MM provided at WGI last year actually made the car run hotter. The updated Riley rear uprights didn’t fit the car when they arrived on race weekend and this goes on and on.

      Even with Joest it’s difficult to envision them being a top contender for the endurance races with AER powering the car. Just like you I hope they can somehow get it together and make better choices that will ultimately put the team on the podium.

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