January 26, 2021

Nunez lands LMP2 drive with new WIN Autosport team

WIN Autosport, formed by driver Steven Thomas, will enter a car driven by Thomas and Nunez for the full season. For the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds, the pair will be joined by Thomas Merrill, while the fourth driver for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will be IMSA Prototype Challenge champion Matt Bell.

Thomas, who earned the Bronze Cup in the Prototype Challenge in 2020, was accompanied for two of those rounds by Merrill, while this year Thomas will continue his PC campaign driving WIN’s LMP3 car for all six sprint races.

For Nunez, who became synonymous with Mazda over the last seven years, the deal comes as a relief after being left as ‘odd man out’ for 2021 as Mazda has cut back from two to one Prototypes. Nunez’s former co-driver Oliver Jarvis will now partner Harry Tincknell on a full-time basis, and Tincknell’s previous partner Jonathan Bomarito has become the endurance ‘extra’ for the Rolex 24, Sebring 12 Hours, Watkins Glen 6 Hours and Petit Le Mans.

After a scoring a podium in the old Lola-based Mazda Prototype in 2016, Nunez racked up one win and 10 other top-three finishes over the past four seasons in the Mazda RT24-P.

Said Thomas: “When Tristan believed we had built a good team and wanted to race with us, that was a big boost.

“Tristan is young but already brings so much top-level experience. He helps the team in every way. And of course, he’s quick. Bell is a champion and has great experience and watch out for Thomas Merrill. He will be as quick as anyone.”

Bobby Golasinski, who was recruited by Thomas to assist him with this venture and who will have an interest in the new team, echoed Thomas’s sentiments.

“Tristan is one of the best prototype drivers in the business and Bell and Merrill are top pros. Steven Thomas has only been driving racecars for two years, but with Ross Bentley of Speed Secrets as his coach, he has progressed quickly, turning the fastest lap among Bronze drivers at the final Prototype Challenge race last year and winning the Bronze Cup.

“Bobby Orgel at PR1 graciously helped us test Steve in the P2 car and we both think he can be successful.

“Steve recognizes how important each member of the team is to our success. It’s unusual for a Bronze driver to be so committed to the team around him. Steve’s loyalty and appreciation for the work the guys do really makes the team pull together. All of us want to be a part of this new venture and see how far we can go.”

Michael Harvey, who formerly ran Porsche’s factory GTLM team, will run WIN Autosport, with Jim “Chachi” Malicki as engineer, Cyril Ma (who engineered Thomas’ LMP3 car) as assistant engineer, and Lauren Elkins as data engineer.

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