Mazda Team Joest is ready for this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24, having rebounded from a heavy accident in private testing at Daytona that left one of its Mazda RT24-Ps with significant damage.
Tristan Nunez escaped serious injury in the high-speed crash on Dec. 12, which saw his Mazda DPi lose control at the dogleg and make heavy contact with the wall in the second horseshoe.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that pieces of bodywork ended up over the catch fence.
Nunez sustained bruising to his knees and ankles but was otherwise fine, according to a Mazda spokesperson, although Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner confirmed that tub damage was sustained, requiring a complete rebuild over the holidays.
“It was more than we expected,” Juttner told Sportscar365. “Our intention was to go away from [the test] with two cars being ready, which worked with one car but did not really work for the other car.
“It took some extra days for some of the guys. Some of us, including myself, stayed here over New Year.
“I had a nice experience on [New Year’s Eve] spending that in a completely crazy sports bar, which was a good experience! But it was a lot of extra work.”
Juttner said the cause of the accident is still unclear, with the damaged tub having been sent back to Multimatic for possible repairs.
“It’s very, very difficult. We are not really sure,” he said of the cause. “We couldn’t find anything that was broken, but also, that’s a flat-out corner. It’s always been, even on not ideal temperatures and tires.
“I think the biggest problem was that he went off for whatever reason. That’s normal, but when he went on the left side over the grass, the car took a hit.
“We believe he stayed on the ground with the rear right tire, which gave him another spin in the other direction again, so he didn’t completely spin. In the driving direction, he basically went into the wall.”
Mazda Upbeat for Roar, Rolex 24
Despite the setback, Juttner said he feels prepared for this weekend, with the team having made significant progress in its pair of recent tests at Daytona.
“We’ve had some good running on our private tests,” he said. “That was all good.
“What we want to do here is to gain more experience with more cars around. We were not alone because there were three or four other cars but that’s not traffic really.
“Here, you have the full field and we’re just trying to prepare for the Rolex 24.
“Driver-wise, everyone has got their laps under their belts, and nobody is really too unhappy. Now, we need to get into race mode, basically.”