Mazda Team Joest confirmed its 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship driver lineup on Wednesday, announcing the addition of Timo Bernhard to the outfit's No. 77 Mazda RT24-P for Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. Bernhard is familiar to the Team Joest organization and has had major success internationally driving prototypes for both Audi and Porsche, among various other sportscar ventures.
Bernhard, a three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, will join alongside the full-time No. 77 drivers Tristan Nunez and Oliver Jarvis. Nunez and Jarvis scored podiums for Mazda Team Joest during the 2018 IMSA season at both Mid-Ohio and Petit Le Mans. The trio will be accompanied at January's running of the Rolex 24 by German driver Rene Rast, a former class winner at the event.
“I have a great memory with Team Joest as we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together back in 2010," Bernhard explained. "I have known John Doonan from Mazda for almost ten years, from the ALMS days, and I have always recognized the passion for motorsport that Mazda has shown. The Mazda RT24-P showed great progress over 2018 and was a strong contender at the end of the season. Sharing the car with super teammates like Olly and Rene who I know well, as well as my new teammate Tristan, made the package very interesting and I was very enthusiastic to join Mazda Team Joest while continuing my program with Porsche.”
With him, Bernhard brings heaps of winning experience as he boasts additional victories at the Nurburgring 24 Hours (5), Rolex 24 at Daytona (1), and 12 Hours of Sebring (1). The German was also behind the wheel for Porsche's lap-record-breaking run at the Nurburgring in 2018 with the 919 Hybrid EVO.
As for Mazda Team Joest's No. 55 prototype, Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell will take on full season duties and be partnered with Olivier Pla in Endurance Cup races.
Bomarito is a sportscar veteran, racing the last three seasons with Mazda's IMSA program after years of experience with a list of other teams including SRT Motorsports. Tincknell also drives full-time with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK in WEC, managing double duty between the two series for the second consecutive year. Finally, Pla is a new member to the team who has a past in open-wheel action as well as a victory at the 2016 Petit Le Mans.
Notably absent from Mazda Team Joest's pair of RT24-P racers is Spencer Pigot who will focus on IndyCar in 2019. The 25-year-old Californian has come up through the ranks with Mazda, also competing in its Road to Indy ladder, and will drive for Ed Carpenter Racing in the upcoming IndyCar season.