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Crew Limit Forces Mazda into New Driver Swap Approach

Mazda set to be without its ‘driver helper’ during pit stops, adding new dynamic to race…

Photo: Mazda

Mazda Motorsports has been forced to make adjustments to its driver change procedure for this weekend’s WeatherTech 240 at Daytona due to IMSA’s limitation of crew members for its return to racing.

Both of the Multimatic-run Mazda RT24-Ps will be without its usual ‘driver helpers’ during the pit stops, which will now result in the exiting driver assisting his co-driver into the cockpit, including tightening his belts.

This is due to IMSA’s restriction to 15 essential personnel per car for Saturday’s race, which is set to be impacted by extreme heat and humidity, adding to driver fatigue.

All four of the Mazda drivers recently practiced the revised procedure during a visit to the team’s new base in Mooresville, N.C., and according to Oliver Jarvis, there are no concerns about getting the change done within the refueling time.

“We’re going to be doing the driver changes between us,” said Jarvis. “This is something we’ve never done before due to the limit of personnel.

“We were testing and we were well within the limit of tires and fuel. But that’s us having sat in the car for ten seconds, jumping out fresh.

“If we did a double [stint] for example, which is 1 hour and 10 minutes of 1 hour and 15 minutes, you are dehydrated and exhausted, the first thing that goes is concentration.

“Within driver changes, you have to be calm and methodical. There’s no point in rushing.

“If you make a mistake, it’s very easy to panic.”

Jarvis predicts that teams that take a similar approach could be more prone for mistakes in the two-hour and 40-minute race, which could see more than one driver change.

Sportscar365 understands that both Acura Team Penske and Wayne Taylor Racing will utilize a ‘driver helper’ as normal, having worked that crew member into its essential personnel list.

It’s unclear if any other DPi teams will be forced to use a similar approach to Mazda.

“I guarantee you those teams that use the drivers there will be one or two mistakes during the race,” Jarvis added.

“It puts you both under pressure. If I make a mistake getting out, that’s on me because I now have to do the belts up quicker. It’s really important we get every little detail correct.

“It’s about taking your time to do everything correct. When we get out, placing the shoulder strap in the right place, because otherwise there’s a risk it falls and that can cost you five, six seconds.

“Slow and methodical is better than rushing.”

Mazda Drivers Training in Florida Heat

Jarvis and Harry Tincknell have been staying in Florida over the past two weeks with teammate Tristan Nunez to help prepare themselves for what’s likely to be the hottest race of the season.

“Definitely being a Florida boy it’s going to have its benefits but at the end of the day there’s nothing you can do,” Nunez said.

“You can’t run outside long enough to the stimulate what it’s going be like, temperature-wise, in the car. I think that’s something that we’ve been concerned with from the from the get-go is the the cockpit temperatures.

“But I’ve had Olly here; he’s been quarantining with me for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been training together getting acclimated to the Florida heat.

“I think it’s a little bit hotter more humid down here in South Florida but I think it’s been good training to get ready for this two-hour and 40-minute sprint race.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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