The nearly four-month downtime due to the COVID-19 virus has put Mazda in “better shape” during the organization’s transition from Joest to Multimatic, according to its drivers.
The factory IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi squad, which was initially due to switch program operators in a four-week window between the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, has now been afforded the luxury of more time than a typical racing off-season to prepare under the new leadership.
While the majority of the key personnel have remained unchanged during the transition, the pair of Mazda RT24-Ps are now being serviced in Multimatic’s shop in Mooresville, N.C., where all four of the program’s full-season drivers recently visited with the multi-national crew to prepare for IMSA’s return to racing this weekend at Daytona.
“They’ve done a really exceptional job. The facilities there are really impressive,” said Oliver Jarvis. “They’re not taking this move lightly having put a lot of resources into it.
“It’s never easy. It would’ve been nice to have had two or three test days before moving to a new team but this is the scenario we’re faced with.
“But I’m pretty confident it’s going be a seamless transition.
“I think it helps that we proved at Daytona that we have a very good package. The car stays exactly the same and the mechanics have worked on it before.
“They are also the guys involved in developing and building the chassis themselves, so there’s a lot of knowledge within the team.”
Multimatic’s significant presence in the engineering of the cars over the last two years has made the move even more seamless according to Jonathan Bomarito, who along with Harry Tincknell and Michelin Endurance Cup driver Olivier Pla gave the Mazda DPi its maiden win at Watkins Glen one year ago.
The operation, now under the overall command of Multimatic chief technical officer Larry Holt, has retained its engineering staff led by Vince Libertucci (No. 55) and Leena Gade (No. 77) along with the same data engineers as well as some former U.S.-based crew that had been employed by Joest last year and in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“From that structure down, not a lot has changed,” Bomarito said. “Some of the Joest mechanics have made the transition.
“I had met a lot of the Multimatic guys that are coming over to run the program from doing the Ford [GT program], so for me [there’s] a lot of familiar faces.
“It’s been pretty seamless through all of this COVID-19 and thus being out of racing for the last four months, it’s really given them more time to get settled in and getting all those little details and processes lined up.”
Tincknell added: “In some respects with the changeover from Joest to Multimatic, having this extra bit of time hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing in terms of being able to get the new shop up and running and get the trucks already and stuff like that.
“Of course it has been operated on maybe 10 percent of the workforce that usually would be, but it’s just meant that while everyone’s doing Zoom meetings and working from home, we arrive at Daytona for this weekend in maybe even better shape in terms of organization.
“Even though a lot of people have stayed the same, I think it’s actually in some ways the extra time we’ve had to prepare will stand us in good stead.
“We’ve made the most of the bad (COVID-19) situation.”