Joest Racing has found a new home, with the legendary sports car racing outfit set to take over Mazda’s DPi program beginning next year.
The Japanese manufacturer announced Tuesday the formation of Mazda Team Joest, which will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a pair of Multimatic-developed Mazda RT24-Ps.
Its current program, run by SpeedSource, has been discontinued immediately and will not take part in the three remaining Prototype races this season.
“The creation of Mazda Team Joest provides us a unique opportunity to partner with a team with proven success in the prototype ranks, and gives us the best chance to return Mazda to the top step of the podium,” said Masahiro Moro, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations and Managing Executive Officer, Mazda Motor Corporation.
“I welcome the Joest family to the Mazda family, and I’m convinced that, together, we will write many more pages in the book of Mazda racing successes.”
The German squad, led by managing director Ralf Juttner, had been the mastermind behind Audi’s LMP1 program, having scored 11 overall victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Audi and multiple titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship, American Le Mans Series and European Le Mans Series.
With Audi pulling the plug on its factory LMP1 program after a 17-year partnership with Joest late last year, it sent the team searching for a new manufacturer partner, with Juttner having attended this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, with the goal of putting together a DPi program.
“We are excited and proud about this new opportunity with Mazda,” Juttner said. “Mazda has such a long tradition in motorsport and, especially in America, has created a huge platform for racing enthusiasts.
“For us, this is not only a return to American racing, which we have always enjoyed, but also great news to the big group of our Japanese fans, who have always warmly embraced us.”
The team, which will establish a North American base in the Atlanta area, will soon begin testing in preparation for next year with Mazda’s four current factory drivers.
Its driver lineup for 2018, however, has not yet been determined.
In conjunction with Joest, further developments will be made to the car by Multimatic, with the Canadian-based firm taking the lead in chassis improvements after struggling, largely with reliability issues, in the first half of its debut season.
The car will continue to be powered by the AER-tuned Mazda MZ-2.0T engine.
“This is an important moment in Mazda Motorsports history as we align our brand’s top-level sports car racing program with one of the best sports car teams of all time,” said Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan.
“What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner and the entire Joest Racing organization have accomplished is not likely to ever be matched.
“We are very excited to work with them to put Mazda in victory lane and to strive for more championship trophies, adding to the substantial Mazda and Joest Racing legacies in the years ahead.”
Mazda’s new partnership with Joest brings to an end a long-running relationship with Sylvain Tremblay’s SpeedSource operation, which helped deliver the manufacturer multiple championships in Grand-Am competition.
“We accomplished a great deal with their organization at all levels of the sport for more than two decades,” Doonan said.
“They are a perfect example of a team that has grown through our Mazda system: from grassroots club racing, to Rolex 24 race-winning efforts in GT and then on to the Prototype program.
“Friendships in our sport run deep and we certainly don’t see that changing.”