Oliver Jarvis and Mazda Motorsports team-mates secure podium place in Rolex 24 at Daytona
Oliver Jarvis was denied victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by a mechanical issue in the closing stages of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.
The Burwell-based driver was racing in the #55 Mazda RT24-P with team-mates Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito in Florida.
It was a rollercoaster race for the team, which all boiled down to the last hour.
They were due to start in second place on the grid, but a gear selection issue meant they took the green flag from the rear of the field.
Another glitch, a broken mounting pin after a tail change in the 11th hour, meant that the Mazda Motorsports car was three laps down on the leaders at one stage.
But Jarvis charged through the field on the series of final restarts to put the Mazda back into contention at the head of the field.
The No 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi of Wayne Taylor Racing, driven by Felipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves, was leading the way before being caught by the No 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande.
However, with seven minutes remaining, van der Zande was forced to pit with a right-rear puncture.
Tincknell was at the wheel of the Mazda, and they passed the Cadillac and looked set to claim at least a second consecutive runner-up finish at Daytona, but a rear wing issue robbed the car of downforce in the closing stages, and they had to settle for third place.
Tincknell believes that but for the issue, they could have won the race.
“The plan was to stay on the lead lap and take no risks so we would be in the running at the end. That went straight out the window when the pace at the front was so hot and we were playing catch up from the start,” said Tincknell.
“We had just got back on the lead lap when we pitted under yellows to change the rear deck of the car, which wouldn’t go back on and we lost three laps. All you can do in situations like these is to go back out there and be the fastest car as that keeps everyone’s heads up so that’s what I did.”
“We knew we had a mountain to climb but we kept at it. The turning point came during my next run as I managed to unlap myself by passing the leader, then it went yellow, which gave me another lap back straightaway with the pass around.
“One of the big takeaways for us is that we had no contact during the race. When you consider that there were over 50 cars on a 3.5-mile track and they are being driven by a mixture of professionals and amateurs, it’s amazing to come out unscathed.
“This is the sort of result that stings in the aftermath but the following morning you feel proud of the job the whole team did. The spirit in the Multimatic camp is very calm and confident and third place at Daytona is a personal best for me. This result stands us in good stead to mount a championship challenge.”
The Action Express Racing Cadillac were second, four seconds behind the winners, with Kamui Kobayashi overtaking Tincknell with just four laps remaining.