Jonathan Bomarito says working in a Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team of Multimatic personnel he knows from the Mazda DPi program has eased his re-entry into top-level GT racing after five years away.
Bomarito, who races the Mazda RT24-P DPi full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is pulling double duty at Sebring this weekend with extra commitments driving the No. 67 Ford GT in Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship race.
Sebring will mark his first appearance in GTE/GTLM machinery since he finished second in the 2014 IMSA points driving a Dodge Viper GTS-R.
Multimatic developed both the Ford and the Mazda, and has personnel working on each of the manufacturer race programs.
“It’s helped because they [Multimatic] did some of our endurance testing at Sebring, Daytona and Jerez with the Mazda for us this year and they basically ran the No. 55 car at Daytona,” Bomarito told Sportscar365.
“So I’d already worked with Wilks [Dave Wilcock] the engineer, and a lot of the crew members, a lot of the Multimatic guys that do some of the engineering and track support. I’ve had a relationship with them the last five years being at Mazda.
“So really, yes, it’s a very new program for me, but I’ve known a lot of the guys involved already.”
Bomarito explained that learning the Ford has been a fairly straightforward process, with the procedural contrasts between WEC and IMSA presenting the steepest learning curve.
The 37-year-old old described the Ford as “every bit as physical” as the Mazda he shares with Harry Tincknell, with whom he is contesting the 1000-mile WEC race along with Andy Priaulx.
“The transition has been good – this Ford is a very physical car to drive,” said Bomarito, who tested the GT in recent weeks and was in the car on Saturday during a private WEC test.
“It’s not too bad going back and forth between the two cars, but there are a lot of logistical differences for this weekend.
“There’s a separate pit lane, so maximizing the entry for that is pretty tricky. And a whole different procedure with shutting off the engine and Full Course Yellows at 80 kph/50 mph [without] the safety car.
“The way the WEC runs a lot of those things procedurally is a lot different [to IMSA]. There are a lot of new things for me, and a lot of differences between the series.
“That’s the bigger thing for me to wrap my brain around than the car so far.”
Bomarito said he’s been doing his homework on WEC race procedures ahead of his first appearance in the championship outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I’ve been doing that the last couple of weeks, trying to wrap my mind around it so I’m not having to think about it so much on the race weekend, because we’re going to have so many other things going on,” he explained.
“[During last weekend’s test] we just did a whole bunch of in-and-out laps, hot pit stops and driver changes because we’re not going to have as much time to do all that stuff running both cars.
“So we’re already starting that process early so it makes the rest of the weekend easier.”