The six-hour WeatherTech SportsCar race heralds the return of the team’s endurance driver squads so IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will join Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito in the #55 Mazda and Multimatic’s Olivier Pla will be back in the #77 Mazda with Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez.
Both Hunter-Reay and Pla have previously taken outright victory at the Petit Le Mans race, held annually at Road Atlanta, so they won’t need much time to get up to speed at the fast and sweeping 2.54-mile, 12-turn classis road course.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back into the Mazda DPi,” said Pla. “My last race was the Rolex 24 and that was a very long time ago! Road Atlanta is a special track for me as it is the first place that I ever raced in the US. It suits me too as I have had many pole positions there and the win at Petit in 2016. The track has a very high-speed layout, especially Turn 1. The downhill run to Turn 5 is something special where traffic management can make or break your race. After seven months of lockdown I can’t wait. I just hope I can remember how to drive a car!”
Saturday’s six hour event at Road Atlanta replaces the race originally scheduled at Watkins Glen, which was the scene of the first win for the Mazda RT24-P last year. Driver of the winning #55 Mazda RT24-P, Harry Tincknell, hopes to defend that historic achievement with victory at Road Atlanta.
“Road Atlanta is a high-speed, undulating track,” said Tincknell. “You have to use the kerbs a lot to be quick there so our DSSV dampers really come into play. Turn 1 is one of the best corners in US racing in my opinion. It’s fast, it goes steeply uphill on the exit and there isn’t much run off so you need to get it right. It’s quite a short circuit so it comes at you pretty quickly. It’s fast and furious and traffic management comes into play a lot because it can get congested with so many cars squeezed onto such a short track. Past performances tell us that the Mazda will be fast at Road Atlanta. The RT24-P loves a high-speed track! Of course it’s a shame we’re not going back to Watkins Glen, the scene of our first victory in 2019, but this gives us a great warm up for the blue riband Petit Le Mans later this year.”
The Multimatic engineering team is confident that that the Mazdas will have good pace at Road Atlanta after being clearly in the hunt for a win in the 2019 Petit Le Mans race, before succumbing to minor electrical problems with half an hour to go. Up to that point the #77 car was in control, both with its speed and a strategy that would have seen it be the only car to get to the finish without having to stop for a splash of fuel.
This week the drivers and engineers are running pre-race driver-in-the-loop set-up development at Multimatic’s recently opened SimCentre Detroit using the Vi-grade DiM250, a state-of-the-art, nine degree of freedom motion simulator. This is the first time the new machine has been used for the Mazda and Mustang pre-race work and the feedback has been unanimously positive.
Initial evaluation and sign-off was undertaken by Multimatic’s lead simulation development driver, Scott Maxwell, who commented:
“The DiM is truly amazing, super sensitive and adjustable. It gives a great road feel and the graphics are awesome. It’s a major step-up from our other machines and will, for sure, enhance our pre-race and overall vehicle development capabilities. The Mazda models are good to go so strap the Mazda boys in the seat right away.”
IMSA MICHELIN PILOT CHALLENGE
The #22 Multimatic Mustang of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx gets closer to the front with each race and last time out at VIR finished just shy of the podium.
“We had a good, strong weekend at VIR so we go to Road Atlanta feeling positive,” said Priaulx. “The Balance of Performance change before VIR (weight reduction) was definitely a step in the right direction and I think that was reflected in our performance. We just need a bit more power now! As ever though we will give it everything we’ve got. It’s a four hour race so a lot can happen in that time. We need to keep it on the track and keep it smooth and remember that we won at Road Atlanta last year.”