Mazda Daytona Prototype International Opens Two Day Test At Daytona International Speedway With Positive Results

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The new Mazda DPi has has got a lot of laps in at Daytona. (Photo-IMSA)

By: IMSA
December 13 2016 

New Porsche 911 RSR Breaks Cover In GTLM

Daytona Beach, Florida – After conducting a significant amount of private testing, two of the three current Daytona Prototype international (Dpi) manufacturers arrived at Daytona for an IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 13-14. Tied for turning the most laps among DPi cars Tuesday around the 3.56-mile circuit was the Mazda RT24-P, which was first unveiled to the public during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

“It's been so far so good for the new Mazda prototype,” said driver Joel Miller. “We’ve turned the most laps out of any of the DPi manufacturers today, so that’s always a good thing. Everybody has a lot of learning to do with the new package. It’s a clean slate for us all.”

The car spent most of Tuesday running relatively smoothly, so the team was able to focus on gathering copious amounts of data and continue learning the car.

“Every time we run the car we learn a ton, and Daytona is a different animal as well with the long straightaways and high loads in the banking,” said driver Jonathan Bomarito. “A few gremlins have shown their faces, which is good – that’s why we’re here. The team is working hard to fix those problems. It’s nothing that prevents us from testing, just things that we’re learning for the future.”

The Mazda DPi arrived at Daytona with a different appearance than what was seen at the L.A. Auto Show, wearing bare carbon fiber instead of a livery. Mazda also added dive planes to the front end, which were left off the car at the reveal as to not be in the way in the crowded convention hall.

Miller believes the new technology featured in the Mazda is a highlight of the driving experience, and is very excited to get the car on track. Bomarito agrees, feeling that coming from the team’s previous LM P2 platform gives the team a slight advantage over the former Daytona Prototype entrants, but there’s no guarantee.

“The other prototypes are run by very smart teams with very smart people, so it’s a tough call,” he said.

New Porsche 911 RSR Breaks Cover in GTLM While the new Porsche 911 RSR also made its worldwide debut last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the car turned its first official WeatherTech Championship laps this morning at Daytona International Speedway.

The Porsche North America team brought both the No. 911 for co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner and the No. 912 for Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor to the two-day test and got right to work on their preparations for a titanic GTLM class battle in 2017 with the Corvettes, Ford GTs, BMW M6s and the Ferrari 488. The new car already has logged more than 35,000 kilometers and 25 hours of testing, but this morning represented its first laps on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway circuit.

“It’s the first time here at Daytona with the new car,” said Porsche GT Project Manager Marco Ujhasi. “It’s a very exciting moment to see the baby out on the official track. We are quite happy that we could get some good information. We are starting very close to zero with all our knowledge again with the new car. We’re trying to build that up very quickly and hopefully generate some good ideas.”

Beyond learning the new race car, Pilet also has three new teammates to get to know heading into the 2017 season. He will team with Werner in the No. 911, who joined the Porsche team after driving with BMW for the past several years, while Vanthoor and Estre are a brand-new pairing in the No. 912.

“It’s great for (2016 Porsche North America) drivers Earl (Bamber) and Nick (Tandy) to have the chance to drive LM P1, but especially for myself, we are good friends so it was difficult to change,” said Pilet, the 2015 GTLM champion. “But I think we have a really good connection with Dirk. Also, the other car will be for sure young drivers with a bit less experience, especially Laurens because he doesn’t know the championship, but Kevin has some experience already.

“It’s good to have an old man like me with some experience. I’m not that old, but I know the team very well. Honestly, everything went smooth. We have really good feedback together, we like the same things on the car for the moment, so it’s quite easy. He’s a good guy. I’ve known him for a long time since I first drove here in 2008.”

Pilet also is impressed with all of the new machinery debuting in other WeatherTech Championship classes for the 2017 season.

“I’m really excited about all the categories,” he said. “You can see the GTD level is getting also incredible with a lot of new manufacturers coming. I drove with the Acura on the track this morning. It’s always special to have new manufacturers. Also, DPi looks really cool from the outside as drivers. The Cadillac, the Mazda look like really awesome cars. I think it’s the way to go.

“It’s difficult everywhere in the world to get a lot of cars, a lot of manufacturers interested in the championship, but to be honest, in the WeatherTech Championship, the people are really looking to help the manufacturers and find the best way to have a lot of cars at the events. It works pretty good. The level of the championship is getting higher and higher each year. It looks like it works. I’m really looking forward to seeing all these cars at the start of the Daytona 24. It will be exciting.”

NOTEBOOK

IndyCar regular Graham Rahal on driving the new Acura NSX GT3: "It was a lot of fun. The car’s very young, but I think it has a lot of potential. I just went out and pounded laps, learning things every single lap to see what works and to see what doesn't. So far, so good. It's a great opportunity for me to be here with Acura and Mike Shank, with us both being Central Ohio boys. The NSX road car was designed in Marysville, Ohio so there's a lot of synergy there which is fun. Hopefully we have a good finish to this test and have a good Roar and race.”

Robert Alon on the transition from Prototype Challenge (PC) to GTD with the 3GT Racing Lexus program: “The cars have some obvious differences in handling characteristics – the PC cars being much faster through the corners, for example. But It’s been really cool. The RC F GT3 is just a really fun all around car and is a great addition to the series. The size of the class and the competition is going to be great next year.”

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