Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan says his confidence level has increased after solving the issue that resulted in a double engine replacement to both Mazda RT24-Ps ahead of tomorrow’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Joest Racing squad undertook a precautionary double engine change after finding a data irregularity on the No. 77 powerplant prior to qualifying.
Both cars missed sessions as a result, with the No. 77 Mazda returning to action for final practice and the No. 55 car sitting out Friday’s 60-minute session, following a decision to change that car’s engine as well.
It completed 17 laps in the final session, posting the fourth quickest time.
“We basically had a new engine broken in,” Doonan told Sportscar365. “It feels great and the data looks fantastic and we identified the area of concern.
“It changed my whole level of confidence once we identified it.
“We feel really good and we’re going into tomorrow with cautious optimism. It’s much better than it was in the middle of the night last night.”
While Doonan would not be drawn to the exact engine-related issue, he was pleased with the Mazda’s progress year-to-year.
Jonathan Bomarito’s 1:36.633 qualifying lap on Thursday marked a three-second improvement over its pace from last year, in the car’s competition debut.
While having completed limited mileage in the sessions this weekend, Oliver Jarvis said that a loss in track time isn’t too much of an issue for the drivers.
His No. 77 car he shares with Rene Rast and Tristan Nunez will start from the back of the Prototype field after missing qualifying, while the sister car will line up ninth on the grid.
“You always want more laps and more time to work on setup and also for the drivers,” he told Sportscar365. “The great thing here is you’ve got 24 hours to learn the track.
“Unfortunately, you can’t change the setup when the race starts but I think we should be there or thereabouts.
“Whenever we’ve been on track, we’ve been quick and it’s now just making sure we stay out of trouble and have a clean race.”
Jarvis is focused on having a clean race and believes that without problems, the Mazdas are capable of fighting for a strong finish.
“If you’re there in the last two hours and you’re on the lead lap, anything can happen,” he said. “I think if we are there with two hours to go, the car’s got the pace in it to fight from the front.
“It’s so competitive this year. There seems to be a couple of cars that are really quick and then the gap from third to tenth is a couple of tenths. You could be on either side of that!
“You could be on the podium or you could be back in P10, and the difference is minute.
“The goal, first of all, is to finish the 24 and if we do that, I think we’ll be in a good position to fight for a top five.”
John Dagys contributed to this report