IMSA qualifying results from Road America: Mazda Racing boss 'believes in process' of balance of performance
Dane Cameron put the Acura DPi on the pole for Sunday’s race at Road America.
Not even a balance of performance hit by IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship officials has been able to wipe the smile off John Doonan’s face this weekend at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, is still basking in back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen and at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and working for a third consecutive DPi win for the manufacturer. However, if Mazda is to pull off the threepeat, it will be in spite of this week’s BoP ruling that landed the Mazda RT24-P a 20-kilogram increase in minimum weight and a reduction in turbo boost equivalent to almost 17 hp in the mid-to-high RPM.
There were other BoP rulings affecting the Mazda’s rivals in the DPi class, as well, including a 20-kilogram weight increase for the Cadillac DPi-V.R, which is partially offset by a 0.6 millimeter larger air restrictor, which amounts about an 11-hp increase.
The Acura ARX-05 was hit with a 10-kilogram weight increase, while the Nissan DPi was left unchanged.
The Acura DPi of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya, led by Cameron’s record-setting pole lap (1:48.715), helped Acura to 1-2 sweep of the front row in qualifying Saturday at Road America. Mazda Team Joest cars qualified 3-4.
Cadillac and Mazda were each given fuel-capacity adjustments.
“From Day 1, when we’ve been involved in the DPI project and the the BoP process, we’ve believed in the process,” Doonan told Autoweek. “It’s a good process. It’s transparent. Everybody’s able to give feedback on the process, and we’re all able to submit our analysis of the event from our point of view. IMSA takes that all into consideration.
“They’ve got tons of data tools, a huge staff. You win a couple races, and if you’re ‘out of the box’, you earned a reward.”
That reward, as Doonan put it, this weekend is designed to reel in the Mazdas at least a touch.
“Because the process is so buttoned up, it should still produce great racing,” Doonan said. “Nobody should be so far out of the box that they don’t have a chance. That’s something I’ve believed in since day 1. That’s why you saw us go to the Roar Before the 24 in January and show our true potential. That’s what IMSA is asking for.
“We’re coming here to try to win races, lead laps, stand on the the podium — do what we were fortunate enough to do the last two races.”
Doonan says that dealing with a BoP ruling and firing up the Mazda teams to adjust to the new regulations is just part of the game.
“It’s been an amazing month since we were able to score the two victories,” Doonan said. “I told the guys and gals in the program this week that when you walk into the paddock, your head is up, your eyes are up, but no chests are puffed out.
“We are back to work and everybody is going to be coming after us. We’ve got to go out and do our part, be prepared, and go execute. Hopefully we can do that here at Road America on Sunday.”
The No. 77 qualified third for Sunday’s race at Road America.
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