Two legendary names in motorsports will be on the grid in 2018 at the 66th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Team Penske and Joest Racing recently announced plans to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beginning next year.
Acura Motorsports announced a two-car effort in association with Team Penske. The legendary race team will campaign a pair of Acura ARX-05 entries, joining Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan in the WeatherTech Championship Prototype class. Testing of the Acura DPi is already underway, and Juan Pablo Montoya will be among the drivers competing at Sebring.
Team Penske last competed in IMSA from 2005-09, winning Sebring in 2008. Acura Motorsports currently campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 in the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) category.
The DPi platform – which debuted earlier this year – allows for cars in the Prototype class to be powered by a wide range of engines from the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and features manufacturer-specific bodywork and styling cues.
Joest, one of the most successful teams in endurance sports car racing is returning to IMSA competition in a big way next season. Mazda Motorsports announced the creation of “Mazda Team Joest” to become its new factory Mazda Prototype team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beginning with the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The announcement brings Joest Racing – which has amassed 16 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 10 victories in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring– back to top-level endurance sports car racing. The team created in 1978 by Reinhold Joest most recently operated the Audi factory prototype team from 1999 through 2016.
“If ever there were a benchmark example of a top-level prototype endurance sports car racing team, on a global scale, Joest Racing is it,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “We are thrilled to welcome what now will be known as, ‘Mazda Team Joest’ back to North American sports car competition.
“The Joest organization has had considerable success in North America in the past and we have every reason to expect that to continue with this new alliance with the Mazda DPi program. On behalf of IMSA, we offer our congratulations to all involved.”
“This is an important moment in Mazda Motorsports history as we align our brand’s top-level sports car racing program with one of the best sports car teams of all time,” said John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “What Mr. Joest, Ralf Jüttner (Joest Racing managing director) and the entire Joest Racing organization has accomplished is not likely to ever be matched.
The team will work closely with Multimatic Motorsports to refine and improve the Mazda RT24-P chassis, which will continue to be powered by the 600-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder, 2.0-liter inline Mazda MZ-2.0T engine developed by Advanced Engine Research (AER).
“We are excited and proud about this new opportunity with Mazda,” said Jüttner. “Mazda has such a long tradition in motorsport and, especially in America, has created a huge platform for racing enthusiasts. For us, this is not only a return to American racing, which we have always enjoyed, but also great news to the big group of our Japanese fans, who have always warmly embraced us.”