Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Meghana Sree
In late June, former IndyCar driver and winner James Hinchcliffe made his debut in the 2023 Mazda MX-5 Championship. This championship is touted as one of the toughest to excel in, given the close-quarters racing. At Watkins Glen, DIVEBOMB had the chance to catch up with the Canadian to gather his thoughts on a promising debut.
Upon exiting his vehicle, Hinchcliffe had his own thoughts on the cars themselves right off the bat.
“The real strength of the series is just that car [points to his race-worn vehicle]. It’s such a great race car,” Hinchcliffe says. “It’s giving - in a way - but it also rewards good habits, so it’s a great training tool for young drivers [and] it’s a great race car for older drivers who want to get into motorsports. For me, it’s kind of the complete package. It’s a great car, and around it, they’ve built a great championship.”
The IndyCar race winner is not the only driver to share this sentiment, as many teams have expressed interest to join the Mazda MX-5 Cup within the next two years. Not only is the series incredibly affordable for the teams, but it’s also exploding in popularity currently. This popularity boost comes as no surprise, seeing as the series consistently provides highlights weekly.
On Hinchcliffe’s side of the garage, he drew a lot of positives from his first race; however, he also stressed his conservatism with all the unknowns.
“We started off strong. From there, it was figuring out who to work with, and things like that,” Hinchcliffe tells IMSA TV and DIVEBOMB. “So if I got a few opportunities, I feel we could’ve maximised, but didn’t have a dance partner. But it was great. Congrats to Aaron [Jeansonne] and Jared [Thomas] on the podium [in Race 1]. JTR [Motorsports] have given me a great opportunity here, and the car was awesome. It’s just me figuring out the nuances of racing in the Mazda MX-5 Cup.
“I think - today - few people wanted to work with the new guy.”
When asked about partaking in future rounds of the championship, Hinchcliffe doesn’t rule it out, stressing that he’s more comfortable with the light and nimble MX-5.
“I think I’m a lot more comfortable now in that kind of race environment. I just wanna reach the bar; missed the setup a little bit [in Race 1]. Wasn’t entirely happy in qualifying, but that’s just a part of the learning process. I feel a bit better in what I can do and get out of the car, so hopefully next time it’s a little better.”