There will be a familiar crop of drivers behind the wheel of the new SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D P2 cars this year, as Sylvain Tremblay, Tom Long, Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez were confirmed Saturday as full-season pilots for its factory TUDOR United SportsCar Championship effort.
All four drivers will continue with the Florida-based team after last year’s debut with the clean diesel-powered Mazda6 GX cars.
“There is no shortage of great racing talent in America”, said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “The decision for this year was relatively simple though as our 2013 line-up excelled both on and off the track.
“Sylvain, Tom, Joel, and Tristan are all talented behind the wheel, but just as importantly, they act as a true team, supporting everyone at Mazda and SpeedSource.”
The successful pairing of Miller and Nunez will continue, as the Mazda ladder drivers will share the wheel of the No. 07 Lola-based prototype contender. It comes after a breakout season for the Nunez, who became the youngest winner in ALMS history.
“It’s a dream come true,” Nunez told Sportscar365. “Ever since I started racing, my mentor has been Derek Bell. I’ve heard stories of him racing at Le Mans, being a five-time Le Mans winner and all of that. It’s just been a huge dream to race in the top class.
“Being here so early in my career, at 18 years old, I honestly never thought it would come this soon. I’m still in awe right now.”
Miller, who claimed five GX class victories in 2013 and Rolex Series Rookie-of-the-Year honors, is looking forward to returning to a high-downforce car and the new challenge of fighting for overall race victories.
“For me to get back in a proper downforce car, from my open-wheel background, I had a huge smile on my face in the first couple of laps,” Miller said. “I’m very exited to be with the program from the ground-up.
“Also with my engineering background, I’ve moved to Florida and I’m at the shop helping on that side as well to develop the car. Really, it’s a dream come true.”
Long, another Mazda ladder driver, who came up through the GT ranks, will pair with team owner Tremblay in the No. 70 Mazda. After enjoying success in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Rolex Series GT competition, it will mark the 31-year-old’s prototype debut.
“I’m really excited about what the season has to offer but also I think that I’ve got some great teammates,” Long said. “We’ll be able to learn from each other. We bring different values to the program where it will be very beneficial to move the ball forward.
“I think the goals are very well structured moving forward. We’re just going to take each step as we go. We’re certainly planning to be successful.”
While SpeedSource has yet announce its full lineup for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, it’s understood that IndyCar stars, and Mazda alumni, James Hinchcliffe and Tristan Vautier are tipped for the drives.