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Mazda drivers offer heartfelt sendoffs as manufacturer shutters DPi program after 2021

Mazda leaving IMSA DPi

#55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi, DPi: Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell, Ryan Hunter-Reay, winners, podium

LAT Images

Mazda will be leaving the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series’ DPi division after the 2021 season, the team announced Friday.

In a statement to the media, Mazda Motorsports said it would be focusing on the MX-5 Cup (a support series for IMSA’s sports cars) as “the cornerstone of (its) racing efforts” along with other grassroots racing. The five-year run of racing in IMSA’s top prototype class will conclude with the Motul Petit Le Mans, IMSA’s Oct. 9 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

IMSA will be discontinuing DPi after the 2022 season, rebranding the premier division as Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) and allowing the new car to compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having joined Porsche and Audi, Acura is the only active DPi manufacturer to commit to LMDh, though Cadillac has indicated its interest in the division.

Mazda, which cut back to one car from two last season, is one of five full-time entries in DPi this season.

Harry Tincknell, who teamed with Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito to finish third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month, confirmed the news in a tweet and also vowed the No. 55 Mazda would end on a strong note.

Jarvis, who is the full-time co-driver of the No. 55 this season with Tincknell (with Bomarito at endurance races), also posted a similar tribute on Instagram.

The No. 55 with Bomarito, Tincknell and endurance race addition Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring season finale and finished third in the points standings. Tincknell is in his fourth season of racing full time in IMSA for Mazda, posting four victories (two in each of the past two seasons) and seven podium finishes.

Mazda becomes the latest of some high-profile manufacturer pullouts for IMSA. In GTLM, the division lost Porsche (which is moving to LMDh) and BMW as full-time entrants this season, leading to the GT classes being overhauled for 2022.

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return March 20 with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.