Mazda Team Joest is set to begin testing with the current Mazda RT24-P before shifting to an evolved version of the car later this year, according to Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner.
The ex-Audi LMP1 squad, which was recently announced as Mazda’s new factory partner, is expected to receive the interim Mazda DPi within the next few weeks at its base in Germany, when it will then kickoff the first of a two-phase development program.
Juttner said they’ve been anxiously awaiting delivery of the first car, in what will mark the official start of its new partnership with the Japanese manufacturer.
‘The input we expect to give can only come when we have our hands on the car,” Juttner told Sportscar365.
“At the minute, all we know is from reports, pictures and talking to people. We are really keen on getting the hardware into our hands. Hopefully that’s in a week or two.”
While details on its European-based testing program are still being finalized, Juttner said there’s plenty that can still be learned even from the interim car.
Having debuted in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Multimatic-built prototype has since seen cooling-related updates that were rolled out in June, and further developments currently being made to the chassis and overall packaging.
“There’s a lot of stuff that can be sorted out, even with the old car,” Juttner said. “The guys can put their hands on the car; it’s not much that will change.
“We’re speaking to Multimatic and they have some ideas on what they would like to try. Springs, dampers, all that kind of stuff with the old car is good enough.
“We also need to adapt our equipment and all that kind of stuff. From that point of view, it would be good to have it as early as possible.”
The second phase of testing is expected to come later this year with a revised chassis, which Juttner indicated would go through both the FIA and ACO for LMP2-related updates and IMSA for any DPi-specific changes.
It’s unclear if the chassis developments would count as the car’s permitted “joker” update allowed once per four-year homologation cycle.
Multimatic has taken the lead in the car’s overall development, with Joest set to also provide input.
“It’s Larry [Holt] and his team that are addressing the areas that we have faced as challenges in the current season,” Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan told Sportscar365.
“The look of the car from the outside, I don’t think you’re going to see much if any change at all.
“I think creating a better environment for the engine to operate is key.
“We faced some cooling issues that we addressed at COTA and subsequent races. Larry and his team are all over that too, just to try and address everything that has been an achilles heel for us.”
Doonan said he’s unsure on the timing of the car’s final homologation from IMSA, but indicated many of the updates could ultimately benefit the global-spec LMP2 car in addition to their DPi program.
“Larry has an opportunity with this to maybe work on his WEC car as well,” he said. “All we want is to bring a successful package to the track.”
Testing, meanwhile, will shift to the U.S. later this year once Joest’s new shop in the Atlanta area is up and running, with the majority of the crew to be fly-ins from Germany.
While Juttner said he could see crew slightly evolving in the future, he wants to begin with his well-oiled core group of engineers and mechanics for at least the first year.
“Basically we’ll start with the team that was Team Joest [with Audi]. That’s my guys in Germany,” he said. “But we are aware that we will have the need for some people fixed [in the U.S.].
“In the beginning it might not be too many but I expect that to grow a little bit over the course of the year.”