By: Ashley McCubbin
While Mazda Motorsports’ comeback at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona may have surprised some, it was just the beginning of the shockers from the team as it was revealed they will be pulling out of Daytona Prototype competition at season’s end.
Despite the news, Oliver Jarvis along with teammates Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito says it is business as usual ahead of the upcoming event at Sebring Raceway. Even more, the incentive to be successful could not be higher.
“I don’t think we necessarily need any extra motivation,” Jarvis told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “We go to every race with the goal to race, and I think this season in particular we know we have a big opportunity with the one car. We’re going to be giving everything. Of course, the news that Mazda would be stopping at the end of the year, so it’d be perfect to give the car and the team the big send-off, and certainly winning the big races with Sebring would be one of them.
“We didn’t need any motivation, but certainly we’re heading there quietly confident and as motivated as we can be. We will be doing everything we can in our control to ensure the program will be ending on a high.”
Tincknell went on to add the current focus is on being “exceptionally consistent” to continue racking up points towards the championship. He also feels they will not have to worry about changes within the roster and mechanics changing, due to the future of Mazda and Multimatic in motorsports allotting for future positions.
“I think everyone within the engineering and mechanic department were reassured that it’s not like after Petite or the end of the year that it’s goodbye to the mechanics and everyone as Multimatic is a massive organization with lots of programs going on,” he continued. “So it’s definitely reassuring that there wasn’t a big panic but I don’t think there should be. The short term is definitely unknown but like I said, everyone is back and ready for Sebring after a decent break at Daytona, and the atmosphere and everything created over the winter just rolls on and that’s fantastic.”
As noted, the Rolex 24 did not go as smoothly as they would have hoped. While the No. 55 started in second, Jarvis took the green flag from the back of the field after struggling to get into first gear on the formation laps. The problems continued as they’d fall a lap down behind in the fifth hour due to lack of pace, before going down three laps replacing the rear tail section when the lights quit.
The second half went much stronger, with Tincknell putting the Mazda back on the lead lap in the 19th hour, allowing them to move into contention shortly before the 22-hour mark and make a late-race run to third.
In the month and a half since, Jarvis believes the issues – minor at that – have been addressed.
“We have a great team back in Mooresville and we’ve had updates letting us know of the issues and what’s been implemented to solve them,” he explained. “That’s the attention to detail the team goes through. Anything that happened during the 24 has been addressed. I don’t see it as being an issue heading to Sebring. So the fact the car made it to the end, we got back on the lead lap, and we got to fight for the win at the end at Daytona was amazing considering the issues we did have.
“But the nice thing is we’re going to head into Sebring knowing the car can do 24 and the small issues we had will be resolved. I think we have another great opportunity to go there and win back-to-back for Mazda at Sebring.”