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Bomarito: Mazda DPi Will be “Hard to Say Goodbye” To

Long-time Mazda driver Jonathan Bomarito reflects on “special” DPi program ahead of its closure…

Photo: Multimatic

Long-time Mazda driver Jonathan Bomarito says it will be “hard to say goodbye” to the manufacturer’s DPi program after its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship swansong at this weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans.

Bomarito, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis are giving the Mazda RT24-P its 46th and final championship race outing in the season finale before the car goes into an expected retirement at the termination of the project.

Mazda committed to the manufacturer-focused DPi rules from the outset in 2017 and the Multimatic-developed RT24-P, which was built on a Riley LMP2 chassis, has been the company’s representative in the class since then.

Bomarito, who has driven the car in each of its five seasons as either a full-time driver or an Endurance Cup specialist, told Sportscar365 that he feels the program has left a positive mark both on himself and the IMSA fanbase over the years.

“It’s sad and hard, but I am super thankful to have been part of the program for so many years,” he said.

“Working with so many great people, teams and partners, I’m super thankful for all of that. But it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the brand at this level.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see so many fans that are so sad to see it end.

“When it’s a constant you don’t hear that feedback, but now that it’s not coming back you’re getting all those fans who wouldn’t normally say anything are coming up to you, telling you how sad they are to see it go.

“Then you realize just how many people have loved and rooted for this race car over the years.”

Bomarito suggested that the Mazda DPi of today is markedly different from the car that took part in the first season of IMSA’s Prototype category five year ago.

“For a driver, if you were blindfolded, you would think you were in a totally different race car,” he said.

“The program has just got better and better every year. Reliability, performance, team cohesion – just everything. When you have a solid program year after year, it just keeps getting better.

“The Multimatic guys have done a great job. For a driver, this is where you want to be: in a competitive car that can win any race it’s competing in.

“Fighting for overall wins, where at every race you feel like you have a chance, is the dream program for any of the drivers in the paddock.”

The Mazda DPi program was initially run by SpeedSource which was responsible for fielding the RT24-P’s predecessor, the Mazda-branded SkyActiv diesel-powered Lolas.

After an uncompetitive 2017 debut, Mazda struck a deal with multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joest Racing to operate the factory program and bring it closer to the likes of the Cadillac teams, Nissan entrant ESM and newcomer Acura Team Penske.

In a two-year spell, Mazda Team Joest delivered the car’s first IMSA victory with Bomarito, Tincknell and Olivier Pla at the 2019 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, which was followed by two more wins at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America.

The Joest partnership ended after the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Multimatic then assumed full race weekend operations in addition to its constant role of developing the car.

The Multimatic era saw Bomarito, Tincknell and Ryan Hunter-Reay earn Mazda’s first Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory last year, while Tincknell and Jarvis currently sit third in the DPi standings with Petit Le Mans still to run.

“I’ve been fortunate to be with three different teams that have essentially run the program,” said Bomarito.

“They have all been different. I think there are positives and negatives to how every single team in this paddock runs things. The more programs you’re around, the more things you learn and pick up on.

“We have some guys that came over from the Joest program who stayed with Multimatic, so there are guys who have been on this program for several years now.

“Some of the races that stand out include the wins, the one-two finishes at Watkins Glen and CTMP in 2019.

“Winning overall the Twelve Hours of Sebring was super special for me. Going back there this year and seeing the banner on the front straight, it was pretty special to be a part of history in that way.”

Holt: Mazda Program “Challenging But Satisfying”

Reflecting on Mazda’s spell in the DPi category, Multimatic’s Executive Vice President Larry Holt said that the program produced overall satisfaction despite presenting numerous challenges during its lifespan.

The RT24-P often experienced poor reliability in major races such as the Rolex 24, even when it exhibited a strong pace. However, its performances in the major enduros gradually came together during the latter stages of the project.

“It’s a bit of an emotional time for me, the race team, our partners and the engineering organization that created the car,” said Holt.

“It is the last time that the RT24-P will be unleashed in anger and all the years of development and hard graft to make it a race-winning program will come to an end.

“Every person involved in this program has some of their skin in the game, it has been incredibly challenging but also amazingly satisfying to overcome the adversity that we were often presented with.

“Mazda has been a phenomenal partner through it all and we worked hard to achieve the wins that they deserved.

“I believe that we can all hold our heads high having been associated with the program, although there will always be a little bit of unfinished business.

“Hopefully one of those items can be closed out this weekend at Atlanta.”

Bomarito believes that Mazda can be “optimistic” about its chances heading into Petit Le Mans despite previous editions not going the manufacturer’s way.

“I think we’re very optimistic about the result and hope to send the car off with a podium or a win,” he said.

“In years past we’ve always been competitive here, fighting towards the end of the race.

“We have had a couple of reliability issues. I don’t think that just because we’ve had them in the past, we’ll have them again this year. I think we’re beyond all of those.

“And we’ve typically had a fast car in years past, so we’re pretty optimistic that we can end this on a high.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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