Mazda Motorsports has traditionally run two teams in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship DPi program, but in 2021, the team will be halving its efforts. The decision is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s widespread economic impact.
The latest report has come from a RACER interview with Mazda Motorsports director Nelson Cosgrove. In it, he said:
COVID-19 has made a significant dent globally in the auto industry, and racing, and we’re not immune to that. We want to remain at two cars and fought to keep it that way, but will have to go with one and that’s how we will contest for the championship and think the familiarity of the group will be beneficial. So from a resource standpoint, we need to be smart with finances, and we’re also in the midst of evaluating LMDh.
At this moment in time, that financial finesse has resulted in the team dropping one of its cars. It is currently unclear whether or not Mazda intends to reintroduce the second car when things are more economically stable.
Cosgrove confirmed that 2021's drivers will be Oliver Jarvis and Harry Tincknell, with Jonathan Bomarito lending a third hand for longer endurance events. Tristan Nunez will remain with the program as a brand ambassador and a vehicle dynamics developer.
Mazda has had quite an up-and-down experience in IMSA as a whole. While the cars have often looked fast, they’ve also been fairly prone to mechanical failures and fires, which has been a rather humbling experience. Its start to the 2020 season alone was a difficult one, as Mazda ended its partnership with Joest and instead joined up with Multimatic Motorsports.
It’s one of the first big losses the endurance racing world has seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside WEC’s severely abbreviated 2021 schedule. It's going to be disappointing to see only one Mazda hitting the grid, and it's likely we'll see other teams downsizing as the new year approaches, as well.