Tom Blomqvist says that returning to North American competition with a DPi drive for Meyer Shank Racing and Acura is “a good place to be” after deciding to prioritize sports cars over Formula E.
After finishing second in the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class in 2021, Blomqvist will make his DPi debut teaming up with former Mazda driver Oliver Jarvis in a new full-season pairing for the No. 60 Acura ARX-05.
Blomqvist explained that he had the option to remain in Formula E for a second season with the NIO 333 outfit but ended up selecting the DPi route to have greater chances of competing for race wins and to position himself in the LMDh market.
MSR was recently announced as one of two partner teams chosen to run the Acura ARX-06 LMDh car when the new prototype formula comes online in IMSA and WEC next year.
The Brit’s signing with MSR ensures his return to IMSA action for the first time since a challenging 2019 campaign in GT Le Mans with the BMW Team RLL factory squad.
“If I’m going to be totally honest, I was quite close to staying in Formula E,” Blomqvist told Sportscar365.
“I had a contract there with NIO and was ready to kind of sort that out. I had the opportunity to test with Shank [at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in October].
“At the time it was more having a look, but the test went well and Mike [Shank] was enthusiastic to have me there, becoming a driver for the team. I had to make a decision.
“I really enjoy those race cars and I think sports cars has a really great, bright future. So there were a number of factors that led to me making the decision to focus my main priority on sports car racing moving forward.
“It was a nice position to be in, I guess, that I could have stuck with the Formula E stuff and tried to make something of that or go the sports car way.
“I enjoyed Formula E. It was tough not being competitive, whereas I know that with Mike and the guys I can fight for podiums and wins every weekend, which has a big effect on a racing driver when you know you can be competitive.
“And with the future of sports car racing, that was obviously on my mind. So it’s a good place to be right now, I think.”
Meyer Shank Racing tested with its full 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lineup — including Michelin Endurance Cup driver Helio Castroneves and Rolex 24 signing Simon Pagenaud — at Daytona International Speedway last month.
The test, which involved several teams from DPi and other classes, gave MSR an opportunity to induct its driving squad, particularly the new full-season pairing.
“Olly brings a lot of experience in sports car racing,” said Blomqvist ahead of his partnership with the former Audi LMP1 driver.
“That’s been his career for a long time now, nearly ten years. And he has a lot of experience in IMSA, so he’s going to be super valuable to the team and to me.
“Coming in from another manufacturer, he has a lot of information of how they went about winning races, so he has a huge depth of knowledge on the series, the cars and the ways we need to go racing. So he’s going to be super valuable.
“Hopefully I bring some fresh ideas and hopefully my speed carries over, and hopefully we bounce well off each other.
“I’ll be learning from Olly; he’s the one with the experience. But hopefully I’m there and quick enough to do a super-strong job and win some races.”
Blomqvist’s full-time IMSA return comes off the back of a strong LMP2 campaign with JOTA that included finishing second in the WEC points and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
He and his co-drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Sean Gelael formed a new lineup in the WEC last year but outperformed their teammates in the more established No. 38 JOTA entry, taking five podiums in six races.
While a WEC victory eluded the No. 28 crew, Blomqvist reckons that the season he had with JOTA gave him a boost in securing his MSR DPi drive.
“That gave me the opportunity to test with the [MSR] guys and I had some sort of proven record in terms of speed, performances and results in the WEC,” he said.
“It’s a very similar race car. I had a super-strong performance at Le Mans. I think all those little things helped to get me the opportunity to test with Shank and I did a good enough job in their eyes.
“That backed up the analysis that had been done prior, and ultimately led to them offering me something.
“It was an important season for me and I really enjoyed the season with Sean and Stoff in WEC. It was mega and fun to really fight for podiums and wins at every weekend.”
Blomqvist added that he is aiming to return to the WEC next year, although a program has not been announced. A WEC entry list is expected to be released this week.
He also expressed interest in GT3 cameos at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa — which he won in 2018 — and the Nürburgring 24, having been to both races in his BMW days.
Asked if his full-time DPi drive is an indication of pursuing a long-term future in North American racing, the 28-year-old said: “I want to try and focus on the sports car stuff.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and it works for me. I think the cars suit me and I can generally extract decent performance from the packages. Long-term, why not focus on it?
“Whether that’s America [or elsewhere], who knows where it all takes me. But I have a contract with Shank and LMDh is coming, so that’s the goal. The goal is to be there for the LMDh program.”