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BLOMQVIST: Consistency is Key

Meyer Shank Racing’s Tom Blomqvist files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Consistency is key. That’s definitely been two words to sum up the past few events for us.

Coming into Detroit off the back of two second place finishes where we strongly believed we had the car to win both gave us a lot of confidence and determination.

We wanted to continue that strong run of results in Detroit at a track we knew suited the characteristics of the Cadillac more than our Acura.

Belle Isle is the only track on the calendar I haven’t been to. Thankfully I was able to get in a bit of simulator time beforehand to help get my bearings. This definitely helped me prepare as the first few laps in practice were a bit of an eye opener.

Turns out Detroit is as bumpy and intense as everyone says! I started FP1 and having never driven the track before it was key for me to get up to speed as quickly as possible, especially as it was my turn to do qualifying this weekend.

To be honest I found the track quite tricky in the low grip conditions to start with, but I was able to build on that over the two practice sessions.

We made some small tweaks to the car to improve it as we were struggling with some of the ride quality and front end performance. The engineers did a great job as every change we did was positive.

I didn’t feel like I personally had the smoothest of practice sessions but managed to get in one quali simulation in FP2 before which gave me more confidence going into qualifying later that day.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

To be honest, before qualifying we didn’t expect to be in the fight for pole position.

Three of the four Cadillacs had shown impressive pace in practice and our sister Acura had shown immense pace throughout as well! We made a few more small tweaks to the car in preparation for qualifying and as usual all I could do was send it as hard as I could.

I love the pressure of qualifying, especially on street tracks where you can always find that little extra with the right amount of risk.

The car was good and I built up to it throughout the session, running top-three most of the time. I was able to find that little extra on my final flying lap momentarily putting me to the top of the times only to be quickly eclipsed by the 01 Cadillac.

P2 was a big result for us, we were super happy with a front row start and slightly unexpected which made it sweeter.

As I qualified I had to start the race but I didn’t think being on the outside of the front row was a great place to start.

As expected the 10 car in 3rd got a better run at the green but I was able to hold my position around the outside of T1 and quickly I realized we had a very good car.

We had planned for a one-stop strategy before the race which meant a lot of fuel saving during my stint. I felt I was quicker than the 01 in the initial phase of the race, it was just difficult to get close enough as they were so strong in the final sector.

Once we hit traffic it’s always a little more difficult being the trailing car and we got out of sync a little bit which enabled the 01 to extend the gap to about 3 seconds. I was really happy with the car and I was able to reel that back in just before the pit stop.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Thankfully it hadn’t been that stressful of an opening stint as we had no pressure from behind and there wasn’t that much GT traffic this weekend. That definitely wasn’t the case for the second phase of the race once Olly was in.

I jumped out at half distance and Olly jumped in, in pursuit of the 01 Cadillac. Again it looked like we had the pace advantage on them, at the same time it also looked like they were backing us up into the quickly approaching 02 Cadillac.

The 31 Cadillac went aggressive on a two stop strategy and was by far the quickest car on track. Before long it was a 4 car battle for the lead.

That definitely got a bit stressful on the pit wall. Olly was doing a fantastic job juggling the fuel numbers yet trying to defend from the quicker cars behind. Honestly I wasn’t sure if we were able to hold P2 to the end with the pace of the 31 Cadillac.

Thankfully for us the 31 and 02 were fighting behind which gave Olly a bit of breathing space. He did a mega job to keep second place to the end! It was a massive result for us on a track where we didn’t expect to be fighting for the podium.

It was a big result for the championship too as our main competitors all finished behind us. It’s a huge testament to the hard work the team’s been putting in the past few months. We’re now leading the championship and plan to not let go of it!

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Tom Blomqvist is the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona winner, driving for Meyer Shank Racing and Acura in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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