A 1-2 Finish in 2019 Gave Mazda Motorsports Its First DPi Victory
By Godwin Kelly
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The last time the Mazda DPi team flashed a wheel at Watkins Glen International, the team dominated the 2019 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen by sweeping the top two finishing positions.
It was a dominating performance. The two Mazda machines led 183 of 211 laps, with Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell and Olivier Pla’s No. 55 finishing first. What’s more, it was Mazda’s first win in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) competition and kick-started a three-race Mazda win streak.
The team didn’t get the opportunity to defend that monumental Glen win last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now a one-car team, Mazda returns to defend that win this week and hopes to score its first win of the season in what could become a launch pad to a championship run.
The No. 55 Mazda DPi full-season drivers this year – Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis – are second in points behind Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who co-drive the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05, which boasts two wins in four outings. The No. 55 has countered that with three podium finishes to date.
“Consistency is very, very important, I think,” Tincknell said during a video media conference on Tuesday. “You need to be on that podium as much as possible. That’s what they (Taylor and Albuquerque) have done well and that’s what we’ve done well, too. That’s why we are 1-2 in the championship.”
Jarvis was quick to agree.
“Naturally, at this stage in the season, we’ve got an eye on the championship,” said Jarvis. “But we must approach each race on a race-by-race basis. We’ve had a strong year and a very good start to the season. Going to The Glen, we want the podium and fight for the win. It would be a nice development for the season if we can pick up that win.
“Watkins was a great track for us (in 2019). We all enjoy driving it and we had a very competitive car there. We go there with high hopes that we can get another win.”
Going into the six-hour event, Taylor and Albuquerque have a 71-point advantage, slim under this year’s points-earning system that pays 350 markers to the race winners. Tincknell is so focused on each race, he wasn’t aware of the point spread.
“I didn’t even know what the gap was until you guys told us,” he said. “We are just focusing on race by race. I just want to try to win as many races as we can. I know if we can do that, we’ll be in a good position. Clearly, we are in a strong fight with the No. 10. I think every car in the field can win. You look down the list of teams and drivers and cars, there’s not one weak link as far as I’m concerned.”
Tincknell and Jarvis, who earned pole honors in the 2019 race at The Glen, will be joined again by Bomarito. Since Bomarito is called into service for longer WeatherTech Championship races, he has his eyes on another season-ending prize – the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. The No. 55 trails the No. 10 by just four points in that competition, where points are awarded at designated junctures in each of the four endurance events.
“That would be great,” Bomarito said. “My first goal is to contribute to the team so we can get a (season) championship for Harry and Oliver, Mazda, Multimatic and all the partners. The Endurance Cup would be huge for me. It is pretty cool that IMSA does that just for the teams that just want to run those four races and for the third drivers who can fight for a championship.
“We are in the hunt for that with two races to go,” Bomarito added. “I feel good about it. Our two hardest races – Daytona and Sebring – are out of the way, and we had podiums at both. So I think we have a good shot at the (Michelin Endurance) Cup and overall championship at this point.”
WeatherTech Championship action at Watkins Glen begins with one practice on Friday (4:20 p.m. ET). A second practice starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, ahead of qualifying at 11:50 a.m. (with a live stream on IMSA.com). The six-hour race streams live on NBC Sports Gold TrackPass starting at 10:40 a.m. Sunday.