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Pla, Bernhard Confirmed at Mazda for Endurance Cup

Mazda confirms 2019 driver pairings; Pla and Bernhard join for endurance rounds…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Mazda Team Joest has named its full-season driver lineup for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, featuring an unchanged full-season roster and two new additions for the Michelin Endurance Cup races.

Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell, Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez will all return to the two-car Mazda RT24-P DPi program this year.

As first reported by Sportscar365, they will be joined by Olivier Pla and Timo Bernhard in the Endurance Cup races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

2016 Motul Petit Le Mans winner Pla will partner Bomarito and Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda, while two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Bernhard has been confirmed in the No. 77 Mazda DPi with Jarvis and Nunez.

In addition, 2017 DTM champion and Audi factory driver Rene Rast will join Bernhard, Jarvis and Nunez for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Rast was one of Mazda’s primary endurance drivers last year, along with Spencer Pigot, while Marino Franchitti and Lucas di Grassi also made one-off appearances.

Mazda’s first campaign with the multiple Le Mans-winning Joest operation resulted in Jarvis and Nunez placing eighth in the Prototype standings, with the program’s best result being a double podium at the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.

“There is no question that the level of competition in IMSA continues to rise every year,” said Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan.

“Class rule separation between the DPi and LMP2 cars mean some adjustments heading into 2019, so everyone at AER, Multimatic, and Mazda Team Joest have been working extremely hard to be prepared with our two Mazda RT24-Ps.

“The cars have performed incredibly well throughout our winter testing program and we are very much looking forward to kicking things off at Daytona.”

The team also confirmed that long-time Joest Racing engineer Jan Lange has been promoted to the position of CEO, replacing former manager Ralf Juttner.

Mazda Team Joest has also appointed former IndyCar team manager Chris Mower as team coordinator for next season.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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