IMSA Spotlight: Jonathan Bomarito
Driver: Mazda Motorsports Mazda RT-24P
What are your first impressions of the Mazda RT24-P?
“The first impression was mainly how well-balanced the chassis is. Sometimes when you have a completely designed new car, the handling is usually not that great. You have to work on it to get it within a reasonable window. But, this one was awesome straight away.
“I’d say first impression is pretty amazing. It’s well-balanced and how much grip the car has. We were there (Road Atlanta) in October, and I know where I was braking in Turn 6 and flowing this much speed and you get back to that with the new car and you think, ‘wow, this is pretty easy.’
“So, there’s clearly a lot more in the car, and you keep pushing harder and with more confidence. You realize, ‘I’m turning the wheel but the car is barely tracking out to where the old car was.’ There’s a lot of grip there.
“The first day was actually stressful because it was a pretty wet day. I mean, I don’t want to scratch the new car, but we’re trying to get a lot done in a short period of time. It was stressful but once the track started to dry and you really started leaning on it, it was good.”
Are there any similarities, driving-wise, to the previous Lola-based Prototype?
“It’s such a different car. Any race car has some similarities but literally everything is different. The sight picture, how you sit, the steering wheel, the electronics, the grip levels… the tire’s different, so it’s everything new. The brakes feel different – a lot better – than last year’s car. There’s really not anything similar.”
Do you feel starting the new era of prototype racing on a clean sheet, with everyone else, will be a positive for the program?
“I think it’s a positive for everybody. For the series, for the drivers and teams and the fans! It seems like it’s exciting for everyone. You have these four chassis manufacturers. everybody’s in the same rule book and guidelines, so I think it’s going to be easier for the series to manage BoP because they’re not trying to get P2 cars and DPs to co-exist. I think it’s going to be better for everyone.”
Where do you think the toughest competition will come from in 2017?
“We’ll see. Pretty much every Prototype team that’s coming back and new one’s coming in are going to be very competitive. It’s hard to pick one. It will be more competitive this year than last year.
“For example, for the 24 (Hours), you have the Rebellion guys coming over with a very stout driver lineup. I don’t think you can narrow it down yet – it’s going to be very different.”
What is your daily driver?
“A Mazda CX-5. A good family car!”
Do you have any superstitions or special pre-race rituals?
“I don’t have any superstitions like I have to wear a certain sock or underwear every time. But, I do my same routine in getting in the car. I put a certain glove on first, my earbuds, and my headsock on, and my helmet…. I just do the same routine every time.
“One, so I don’t forget anything and two, it’s like it clicks that switch for you that you’re getting in that mode, into the mindset of getting in the car.”