Oliver Jarvis says joining Mazda Team Joest is like “coming back home” to his familiar Joest team which he competed with for several years in Audi’s LMP1 program.
The Brit will embark on a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entry as part of the revamped Mazda DPi program after a year away from the German squad.
Despite the unfamiliar environment of the WeatherTech Championship, the reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class winner feels right at home already.
“It’s always difficult moving to a new team and getting to know people but coming here is like coming back home,” Jarvis told Sportscar365.
“I think I know 99 percent of the guys. There’s maybe one or two faces that are new when you add in the Multimatic side of things but it’s great.
“I know the guys so well and I know the way they operate, so for me, it’s been a really smooth transition. The Mazda guys, from John [Doonan], to the drivers, and everyone else involved, have been fantastic and really friendly and welcoming to us all.
“They’re helping me to transition to the Mazda way of things and I know a little bit of the Joest way of things so it’s working really well at the moment.”
After three seasons competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, coupled with a Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup entry with Bentley this year, Jarvis said he’s excited to return to the U.S., where he has previously only had sporadic endurance race appearances, but with success.
He claimed GT class victory in the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona in an Alex Job Racing-prepared Audi R8 LMS, while also scored top honors in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring that year, in Audi’s final appearance in LMP1 in the event.
“Ever since I raced here in 2013 and before then when Audi was doing ALMS, it was something I really wanted to get involved in,” Jarvis said. “Having the experience in ’13 and ’14 over in the States, I knew I wanted to come back.
“It’s been an ambition of mine to come and race here full-time. At one stage, I thought it might happen with Audi but obviously, things changed.
“As soon as I got the phone call from John and the opportunity from Mazda, I just jumped at it. For me, it was an easy decision.
“With Joest being involved, I knew that it would be run properly and I know the guys already. Speaking with John, [you can see] his enthusiasm for the sport, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Jarvis Focusing on IMSA; Dual Program Unlikely
After running full-time in both WEC and Blancpain GT in 2017, Jarvis is set for a step back next season by focusing mainly on the WeatherTech Championship.
While not ruling out a return to Bentley’s Blancpain GT program, the 33-year-old did suggest that a clash between the Paul Ricard race and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen would make it difficult.
His Mazda teammate Harry Tincknell is set to miss the Mid-Ohio race owing to the clash with the WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, where his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing committments will take priority.
“I’ve been racing in Europe for so long that it’s always difficult to step away,” Jarvis said. “Unfortunately, with the IMSA calendar clashing with Blancpain and also WEC, it was a decision I had to take.
“Looking at the way the championship is going and looking at the project, in the end, it was a simple choice and one I had to take.
“This is my primary program. Whether I’ll add bits and pieces as well, we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m a Mazda driver for next year. I’ll be doing every single IMSA race, that’s for sure.”
John Dagys contributed to this report