Mazda Team Joest driver Oliver Jarvis does not reckon that the new partnership will be able to challenge Cadillac‘s dominance in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Mazda Racing teamed up with the famous Joest Racing organisation to run their Riley/Multimatic-based RT24-Ps prototype for the 2018 season and skipped the last three races of the 2017 season, in order for Joest to examine and prepare the machines.
Yet Jarvis, who will partner Tristan Nunez fulltime in the #77 car, believes it is too soon to expect the new team to compete with the dominant Cadillac teams.
“I think we’re all dreamers and racers and we want to win,” he told Motorsport.com, “and don’t get me wrong, we want to go out there and win it and that’s the dream. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, we’re probably a year too soon. Maybe not even a year, just six months.
“While the Mazda raced last year, it’s really been the last four to six months that there’s been a huge change and that means we’re not quite as well prepared as the Cadillacs. They’ve had their car for a year, they’ve ironed out all the issues, and come here and really hit the ground running.
“I think we’ve shown we’ve got the pace but it’s now about putting everything together. I’d like to think we can fight at the front all season and I’d like to think we’ll be there or thereabouts but there’s some incredible competition this year.
“To go out and win it in the first year with Joest is the goal, but it may be that step too far at the moment. That’s not to mean we won’t go out and give it our best shot.”
Despite his concerns, Jarvis has been impressed so far with the revised RT24-P and believes that the car prospects during the race are good.
“First time I got in it was at Sebring, and I got out with a smile on my face because it’s a really good car, it handles well,” he said. “Like any car, if you take it to the limit it has some balance issues, but if it didn’t, you weren’t driving hard enough.
“But basically the car’s fantastic and the job they’ve done in the last six months is incredible because I think they’re three seconds faster here than they were this time last year. Some of that is engine development but a lot of it is corners – and that’s on a track where there aren’t that many corners.
“It’s been an incredible step forward. So I’m really, really pleased so far.”
“We’re certainly in the mix – although I think the Caddys and the Acuras are very strong, and to be fair the Orecas are there too.
“But we’ve also had to miss sessions with both cars due to issues and that’s probably the biggest concern heading into the race – having a trouble-free race. If you have a trouble-free race, you can worry about your position after.”