Tenacity maintains Mazda Motorsports’ third place in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings
Multimatic Motorsports’ bruising Californian tour finished up with a fifth place at Long Beach to add to the identical placing at Laguna Seca. Despite a number of setbacks the team never stopped digging and as a result, has hung-on to third in the teams’ and driver’s championships. The trucks are now heading home to North Carolina where the total focus will be preparation for the season ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. This includes a two day test at the famous Georgia track to ensure that the drivers, technicians and car are at the highest level of readiness for the challenging 10-hour event. In Long Beach the team missed the majority of the first practice session due to a locked rear brake, caused by a rubber O-ring randomly breaking up and blocking the fluid line; one of those infamous $2 part failures that causes a catastrophic outcome. Street tracks are unique and their character is constantly changing so it is imperative to use all available practice time, which is also seriously limited by the tight schedule, and so the issue immediately put the team on the back foot.
A session short on data, the team rolled the dice on set-up making a host of changes between FP2 and Qualifying. Oliver Jarvis took the wheel of the Mazda RT24-P and wrung out everything he could on his way to taking sixth place on the grid after having an incident on his fast lap and flat spotting the tires. More data was gathered, allowing the team to dial-in the car even more for the race.
It was Jarvis at the wheel for the start of the 100-minute sprint. The race became a simple single-stop affair when Kevin Magnussen clipped the wall and left part of his rear bodywork on the track, the ensuing early yellow putting everybody on a single-stop strategy. It left no more than a two lap window for the mid-race fuel stop, which transpired to occur under green as no further full course cautions were called despite the pre-race predictions of chaos with so many cars on track.
Despite Jarvis and then Tincknell attacking as hard as they could, they couldn’t make significant inroads on the competition. The naturally-aspirated Cadillacs held an obvious advantage over the Acura and Mazda turbo engines coming off the many tight turns of the Long Beach street track. Tincknell was able to catch the #10 that was running in fourth place but once his rear tyres went off the Mazda’s challenge faded and he crossed the line in fifth place splitting the two Acuras.
“Losing that time in Practice did so much damage,” said Tincknell. “Once I was in the race I knew what we needed to do to the car to improve it but it was too late by then. The early race yellow was just a few minutes too early so there was no chance for the people on the pit stand to come up with an inventive strategy to get us to the front. All in all, not our most competitive weekend but Petit Le Mans will be better as our car is much more suited to that track.”
Multimatic Motorsports boss, Larry Holt, said: “That was a very difficult weekend and I’m proud of the way the team stepped up to the many challenges that continually came at us. We were missing some key people for this race weekend but everybody adapted and it never caused a problem. With only two practice sessions before qualifying, all jammed into Friday, it was a huge setback to miss FP1, but nobody panicked, we took a shot at the set-up for FP2 and then used that data to make some big changes for qualifying, not something that we would normally gamble on doing. We had a better car for qualifying and Olly gave us everything he could but locked-up on his fast lap, and ended up in the tyre wall, flat spotting the starting tyres. We took the single allowed replacement on the front and used the reconnaissance lap to establish if the other three would be good to race, with a back-up plan of stopping on the formation laps to change another if required. Olly deemed the tyres good to race and gave us a solid first stint, keeping out of trouble and hoping for a yellow to have a chance at challenging. The yellow never came and once Harry got in our target became the Acuras as the Cadillacs had an advantage off the tight corners with their normally-aspirated V8s. We had a chance at the #10 car but the traffic worked against us and so splitting the #10 and #60 was all we had. We have hung on to third in the championship, 189 points back of the leader. With 350 on offer for a win, and keeping in mind what happened at the end of last year’s Petit, we aren’t giving-up yet, knowing that the Mazda is outstanding at Atlanta.”
Petit Le Mans, the IMSA season finale, takes place at Road Atlanta on November 13th.
Text by Multimatic Motorsports, Photos by Mazda USA