Oli Jarvis targets race wins in "new home" at Meyer Shank
New team, new car, and plenty of optimism heading into 2022.
Oli Jarvis has his eyes set on race victories in the 2022 WeatherTech Sportscar Championship with his "new home" in the series at Meyer Shank Racing.
The British driver finds himself in new machinery for the upcoming IMSA season for the first time since 2018, but believes firmly that the team has what it takes to score the Ohio-based outfit's first overall victory in the series since the 2016 Petit Le Mans.
Speaking to The Racing Blog before flying to Daytona for the ROAR and Qualifying Racng this weekend, Jarvis discussed the feeling of joining the MSR crew after Mazda's termination of the RT24-P programme.
"I've had a reasonably successful last few years, we didn't quite win the championship with Mazda, but the progress we made was evident for everyone to see. With them leaving my first priority was to find a new home, and I did that with MSR. "I love IMSA, I wanted to stay involved in IMSA, and I was delighted to get the deal done." From the off, the former Audi LMP1 driver is set on targets for the upcoming season, and more importantly knows what he and new teammate Tom Blomqvist are there to do for MSR who prepare for their second season in the DPi category. "First and foremost [our target is] to be quick and win races. MSR came into the championship last year, I actually think they did a great job in their progression and it’s really promising. "Mike who’s extremely ambitious and a real racer and he hoped for more, and he made no secret of the fact that he wants to go out and win. "Experience helps, I know IMSA, I know the tracks, I know how the racing works. We know the car is capable of winning and it’s now up to us to work well together, gel with the team and go out and deliver."
"I think the team would like to win a race, there’s no doubt about that. As a driver you directly compare yourself to your teammates for example in the sister car, we don’t have that, but what we do have is the #10 [Wayne Taylor Racing] and they’re a very good yardstick as a team to go out and try and beat them in the same equipment.
"Of course we want to be winning races and scoring podiums along the way, and hopefully if you do that, if you get a win and consistently get on the podium you’ll be in the fight for the championship at the end of the year."
Comparing the Mazda and Acura DPi machines, and getting up to speed
The switch from one racecar to another is always a daunting prospect, and as a driver to have calculated every nuance and characteristic over several seasons it can often be a case of 'un' and then 're' learning.
Jarvis turned laps for the first time in the Acura ARX-05 in December and, after having raced seven different chassis across prototype and GT divisions since the curtain falling on Audi's LMP1 programme in 2016, admits to TRB he still has a long way to perfect the art of driving the two-time DPi championship-winning Acura ARX-05.
"It's a completely different beast to the Mazda, very much so. It was very interesting jumping across, because you have all these preconceptions having seen the car on track for so many years, but I was actually very surprised how different the Acura and Mazda are.
"I’ve raced against the Acura for four years now and I’ve seen it win races and championships, and I can see why it’s been such a successful car.
"I’ve still got a long way to go to really get the most out of it, but I’m very early on in that phase and hopefully by the time we reach the 24 hours I’ll be in a much better position. "Luckily with Daytona, the 24h and the ROAR combined we should get plenty of track time before the race."
Based on the Oreca 07, a car which Jarvis has driven on multiple occasions and most notably to an overall podium at Le Mans 2017, the Cambridgeshire pilot revealed his surprise at how different the two machines were.
"They’re based on the same chassis, so I was actually anticipating them to be almost identical but from my very first lap I realised they are actually quite different cars. "The feeling and the way they drive is very different, the engine and the power delivery makes a big difference, whilst there are some similarities, the way you drive it and the feeling of the car is quite different to the standard Oreca LMP2."
Developing on "crucial" relationship with Blomqvist
For the four years Jarvis has worked with a largely unchanged group of drivers in advancing the RT24-P and scoring the brand's first wins in the IMSA championship. For 2022, however, he is met with a completely new set of mechanics, engineers, and importantly teammate.
The 38 year-old is partnered with Tom Blomqvist, the in-form prototype driver stepping up to the top division of a multiclass championship for only the second time and heads into his first season without a single-seater programme to juggle. Despite being at different stages in their career, Jarvis is confident that the British duo are in a great position to be able to win with MSR. "[The relationship is] very good," Jarvis told TRB, "We spent time together at the December test, we’re constantly texting each other. "I think our relationship is going to be crucial and it’s difficult to judge until you’re actually on the racetrack. We’re perfectly in sync in that it’s an important year for the both of us, we’re at different stages in our lives in terms of our careers, but we want to go out and win races. "And to do that in sportscars you’ve got to work together and have harmony in the team. The difference with sportscars and single-seaters is you have to be able to adapt and make sacrifices and do what’s best for the team, that’s not always what’s best for an individual but it’s the end result that matters. "We know the car is capable of winning and it’s now up to us to work well together, gel with the team and go out and deliver." Jarvis races the #60 Meyer Shank Racing ARX-05 for the first time this weekend at the ROAR, with the Qualifying Race for he 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona takes place on Sunday evening (19:05 GMT)