The Mazda Prototype team rolls into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) outside of Toronto this weekend for the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix. The team has recorded two consecutive podium finishes for the first time, and CTMP represents an opportunity to extend that to three straight. This is the seventh of the 10-race IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the Prototype category. The two-hour, 40 minute race around the undulating 2.459-mile circuit can be seen live on FS1 at noon ET, with live coverage from IMSA Radio/ Radio Le Mans throughout the weekend.
The two-car Mazda team showed great pace Sunday at Watkins Glen International, which bodes well for the similarly fast and smooth Canadian track. The circuit is known for extreme elevation changes and high speeds, but it’s the cornering that provides the biggest physical challenge for the drivers.
“The thing that is most physically demanding is the length of the corners and the speed of the corners,” said Tristan Nunez, driver of the No. 55 Mazda Prototype. “You’re pulling such heavy G-loads around the track, and 70 percent of the track is at full throttle, so that gives you an idea of how fast the corners really are at CTMP. It takes a toll on the driver. Every year I’ve been there, I walk away feeling pretty sore. I’ve been training ahead of time, but nothing compares to the forces you take when you’re in the car.”
Sore or not, Nunez relishes racing at CTMP.
“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks,” Nunez said. “It’s a gutsy track and I really like the high speeds. Plus, our car does very well in the high-speed sections. The track is pretty smooth, so we can run the car very low [for more downforce], so I’m pretty excited for it.”
Last year, Nunez won the pole and led 20 laps (by a margin reaching upwards of 16 seconds) at CTMP, but with the new-for-2017 Daytona Prototype international cars, there is uncertainty about what to expect when the Mazda RT24-P cars hit the track for practice on Friday.
“There’s not any connection to last year besides the fact that you have the experience going into it,” Nunez said about leading the race last year. “It’s muscle-memory and knowing the track. But every track we’ve been to this year, it’s a big question mark and you don’t know what your car is going to do until the first or second practice. We’re going to go in there and try to get a good baseline set-up to start the weekend and see where we end up. With the rule changes this year, it’s tough because you don’t know where the other guys are going to be. With the old cars, you had an idea. Now, everyone is on a LMP2-style package, so it leads to uncertainty about how every team will perform.”
Driver Lineup: Mazda Prototype team at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
No. 55, Soul Red Mazda: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez
No. 70, Machine Gray Castrol Edge/ModSpace Mazda: Joel Miller, Tom Long
Continental Tire Series and IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda
The Prototypes won’t be the only Mazdas on-track at CTMP. The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series will headline Saturday’s action with the two-hour Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120, which includes Mazda MX-5s in the Street Tuner (ST) category. The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda will also be in action with two races on the schedule.
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, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.
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