Keiko Ihara is set for her debut at the wheel of a factory prototype, with the Japanese driver having been confirmed in the No. 70 Mazda Motorsports entry for next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Ihara, who became the first female driver to stand on the podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship (pictured, above), will join full-season pilots Joel Miller and Tom Long, as well as Ben Devlin for the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
She is coming off an initial test with the Lola-based prototype, featuring the new Mazda MZ-2.0T engine, in December.
“December was nervous but I felt the potential [in the engine],” Ihara told Autosport Japan. “With the Spirit of Mazda, I would like to win with my teammates under the force of the North American Mazda team. I have to thank them for their support.”
The SpeedSource-run operation had an encouraging race debut with the gasoline-powered engines at last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, which saw the sister No. 55 entry lead the race until suffering engine failure.
Spencer Pigot will again team up with Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez in the No. 55 car, marking the same lineup seen at Daytona.