2nd place finish for #55 Mazda RT24-P at Road Atlanta
The two Mazdas qualified well on the previous day with the #77 Mazda RT24-P driven by Tristan Nunez recording a 4th fastest time and the #55 Mazda RT24-P driven by Harry Tincknell securing 5th place on the grid. However, the #77 was officially moved to the back of its class, 8th on the grid, due to changing its engine prior to the start of the race.
The first hour of the race was hectic, with several contacts and two full course cautions in the opening stages. Despite this, the Mazda cars managed to avoid getting embroiled in the incidents and, although Harry Tincknell in the #55 dropped one place to 5th in the first hour, Tristan Nunez in the #77 had climbed up to 6th after 44 laps.
Nunez handed the #77 over to Oliver Jarvis at the one-hour mark who continued their strong pace and brought them up to 4th place in the second hour. After about an hour and a half behind the wheel, Jarvis handed the car over to Olivier Pla who raised them up even further to 2nd place and engaged in a strong challenge against the race leader. Pla headed into the pits with two hours remaining and rapid pit work from the crew put Nunez back out onto the track in the race lead. Although Nunez struggled to hold off the Acura DPi on cold tires and briefly dropped back down to 2nd, he retook the lead 28 laps later. Nunez held onto 1st place for a solid 40 laps and looked in a promising position to win the race but tragically brake issues forced him to retire before he could pass the finish line.
As for the #55 Mazda RT24-P, although Harry Tincknell dropped back to 5th in the first stint, he consistently ticked off laps and maintained their position until pitting and passing the baton to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’s strong pace moved them up one position to 4th by the third hour of the race. After an hour and a half behind the wheel, he handed the car over to Bomarito who maintained their 4th place until he passed the car back over to Hunter-Reay with about two hours remaining. Hunter-Reay steadily ticked off laps before passing the wheel over to Tincknell for the final stint.
Tincknell immediately overtook one car to put them in 3rd place and began applying strong pressure on the #6 Acura running in 2nd. Later, contact between the Acura and a Cadillac in the pits at the closing stages of the race allowed Tincknell to move into 2nd place. From there he carried out a fervent pursuit of the race leading #7 Acura, reeling him in to within one second, before ultimately passing the finish line in 2nd place.
Following the race Mazda Motorsports USA director, Nelson Cosgrove stated, “After a fierce 6 hours of racing, we can be proud of our team at Mazda Motorsports. The speed shown by the number 77 car was amazing but was sadly derailed by a couple of mechanical problems. The #55 car showed our true challenger spirit and made a charge through the field with a strong 2nd place finish. I cannot wait to return to Road Atlanta in a few weeks and fight for a win.”
Despite misfortune prematurely ending a promising performance from the #77 Mazda RT24-P, the #55 car’s consistent, competitive pace saw the team finish the day with a exemplary podium finish. Mazda USA are sure to carry on this momentum into the next round of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Text by MZRacing, Photos by Mazda USA