Oliver Jarvis said it would be “incredibly special” to become the first driver to win four consecutive Michelin Endurance Cup races as the Englishman seeks his first Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory in nearly ten years.
Jarvis, who claimed Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in his debut with Meyer Shank Racing in January, could be re-writing the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship history books should he and co-drivers Tom Blomqvist and Stoffel Vandoorne take their No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to victory in Saturday’s endurance classic.
The ex-Mazda factory driver won last year’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen before going onto claim victory in the season-ending Motul Petit Le.Mans, in Mazda’s final outing in the DPi ranks.
While spread across two seasons, no driver has achieved such a feat before.
Jarvis, who came close to winning the postponed 2020 edition of the Twelve Hours until suffering a late-race puncture, said he knows the challenges in store for him and the Acura squad this weekend.
The 38-year-old’s only Sebring win came in 2013, in Audi’s final LMP1 race appearance at the track.
“It’s such a tough race,” Jarvis said. “2020 showed that. We had the race under control with a 20-second gap and had a puncture out of nowhere.
“Anything can happen. You have to stay on the track and stay out of trouble.
“You also need a quick car. It does often come down to a sprint finish as we often see.
“I hadn’t picked up that there’s a potential to win all four in a row. That would be something incredibly special.
“But we’re taking each race as it comes. I’d love to add another Sebring, but more importantly continue the strong start we had to the season with the No. 60 crew.”
Jarvis said MSR’s victory at Daytona — it’s first in DPi competition — was a “very similar” situation to when he was with Mazda, which went a number of years until scoring its breakthrough first win at Watkins Glen in 2019.
“It’s very difficult until you get that first win,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure. The longer you go without that first win, the more the pressure builds.
“To be able to win so early and more importantly win such a big race, there’s certainly less pressure.
“But now that’s gone. We won it, it’s over. Now we’re really focused on Sebring.
“Mike [Shank] wants to win every race. I had a meeting with the team this morning. He has that drive and passion where he wants to go out and win everything.
“The focus is really now on Sebring and hope we have a good result there.”
“Steep Learning Curve” in Adapting to Acura ARX-05
Jarvis said adapting to the Acura DPi has been a unique experience compared to the Multimatic-built Mazda RT24-P he drove in the championship’s top class over the last four seasons.
“For me, one of the biggest differences from the Mazda is the power delivery,” he explained. “The way the Acura delivers the power, the amount of torque it has and also the traction control.
“It’s a very different beast to what we had at Mazda.
“It has a very sophisticated traction control system on it, so it’s also [about] getting your head around that. I think there’s a lot of lap time in finding the right settings that work for you.
“There’s a lot of adjustability, something we didn’t use so much with the Mazda.
“It’s a steep learning curve. Every time I’ve been in the car, I’m working closely with Tom and our engineers and we’re making progress.”
Vandoorne Test Crucial Ahead of Race Week
MSR has not been able to retain its full Rolex 24-winning lineup this weekend due to a clash with the NTT IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway, which has led to ex-Formula 1 and current Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne joining the team as an expected on-off.
Vandoorne is subbing for Helio Castroneves, who delivered the starring closing drive at the Rolex 24.
“It’s a loss to lose someone like Helio,” Jarvis said. “He brings a lot to the team and did an incredible job at Daytona. It was the first time I’d driven with him and was really impressed.
“Despite his four Indy victories, he’s probably under-rated how good he really is.
“We’ve got an amazing replacement in Stoffel. He jumped in the car and did a really good job in the two-day test.
“It was good to get him in the car then. I think that was really important. Sebring is not an easy track so if was the case of him arriving at the race having never driven the car or circuit, then that’s a really tough ask.
“But those two days was invaluable. It allowed us to run through some setups and do a lot of work.
“Sebring is very special. The track can change from day to day. We gained as a team through a lot of experience.”