Mazda Motorsports began a new era last week with the creation of Mazda Team Joest (pronounced YŌst), which will be the factory Mazda Prototype race team competing in the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship under Daytona Prototype international (DPi) rules. The team will make its racing debut at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. IMSA is the International Motor Sports Association.
Joest Racing is one of the most successful endurance sports car teams in history, with 16 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans plus multiple wins in prestigious North American races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, ten wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and six titles at Petit Le Mans. Joest found much of its success as the factory team for Audi from 1999 until the manufacturer ended the program after the 2016 season. Prior to that, Joest Racing had multiple Le Mans victories with Porsche, and was the factory team for Opel in DTM, the German touring car series. The German company was created in 1978 by then-factory Porsche driver Reinhold Joest.
Mazda’s racing heritage includes being the only Asian manufacturer to win overall at Le Mans, plus 22 class victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 13 class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and 11 major season championships. According to IMSA statistics, Mazda is the third most successful manufacturer in the history of North American professional sports car racing, powering 155 major-series victories.
“Since Mazda first took to the race track in 1964, our ‘Never Stop Challenging’ spirit means that every time we race, we strive for victories and championships,” said Masahiro Moro, president and chief executive officer of Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) and managing executive officer, Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC).
“The creation of Mazda Team Joest provides us a unique opportunity to partner with a team with proven success in the prototype ranks, and gives us the best chance to return Mazda to the top step of the podium. I welcome the Joest family to the Mazda family, and I’m convinced that, together, we will write many more pages in the book of Mazda racing successes,” he added.
John Doonan, director of motor sports for MNAO, recognizes the new pairing as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“This is an important moment in Mazda motor sports history as we align our brand’s top-level sports car racing program with one of the best sports car team of all time,” said Doonan. “What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner and the entire Joest Racing organization have accomplished is not likely to ever be matched. We are very excited to work with them to put Mazda in victory lane and to strive for more championship trophies, adding to the substantial Mazda and Joest Racing legacies in the years ahead.”
With the full focus turning to 2018, Mazda’s current Prototype team will not compete in the three remaining IMSA races this season.
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI) is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.
In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.