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Shank “Looked at the World” for All-New Full-Season Lineup

Mike Shank on securing Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist as new full-season MSR drivers…

Photo: Peter Burke/IMSA

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank said he “looked at the world” to assemble an all-new full-season driver lineup for its Acura ARX-05 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.

The Ohio-based team announced this week the hirings of Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist, who have replaced Frenchman Olivier Pla and Dane Cameron, who is off to Porsche Penske Motorsport, in MSR’s No. 60 Acura DPi.

Speaking during a Zoom call on Friday, Shank explained the need to shake up the lineup with new drivers that particularly have previous experience on IMSA tracks.

“Looking at this, it’s no secret that MSR did not have the best of years in IMSA this year,” said Shank. “We needed to come up with some fixes and improvements going into 2022 and obviously into 2023.

“We looked out at the world to look at people that we thought on the driving side that could help us hit a few goals, which was to improve our DPi performance next year and also to prepare ourselves for 2023 and beyond.

“These two drivers are exceptional at what they do.

“They bring a varied past forward to help us develop our car, whether it’s DPi or the next-generation car, and have experience at North American tracks and know the kind of car we’re dealing with and the demands it takes these days to be competitive in prototype racing in America.

“It’s a really different world we live in now compared to even in 2016 when we were last in prototype. It’s six or seven or eight cars but every single car could win a race at any particular point.

“Every single driver is very, very strong. I felt that Tom and Oliver really give us our best shot to improve our program internally and also create better race results for Acura and our sponsors.”

While admitting having a challenging return to prototype competition this year, Shank said he hasn’t given up on getting the DPi program into victory lane next year, despite it being the final season with the platform prior to the launch of LMDh in 2023.

“I think us jumping into prototype after four years in GT was a little bit eye-opening for us,” Shank told Sportscar365.

“Specifically with ride height controls and controlling the aero platform was the biggest thing that took us a little bit to catch up.

“I would argue and I have the facts — from mid-year onward we got the car much more under control, starting with Watkins Glen where we had a pretty dominant run there to the end.

“It just took us a while to understand what the car needs. The car is tricky at times and can be needle-pointy on a setup window. It caught us out a couple times, especially early on.

“The great news is that now we’ve run all the tracks, we know what worked ultimately at the end of the day so we have that base to start with.

“We’re pushing hard on the DPi still. We’re going to do some static off-track testing with it, we’re going to do some on-track testing with it so we have more to gain and my guys are hard at it, even though it’s the last year with this DPi car.”

Road Atlanta Test Led to Blomqvist’s Hiring

Former BMW factory driver Blomqvist, who took part in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship season with BMW Team RLL in GT Le Mans, revealed that he secured the season-long MSR drive after testing with the team at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta last month in the build-up to Motul Petit Le Mans.

“Jumping in the car at Road Atlanta — thankfully I knew the track,” he said. “You need a little bit of bravery around there. To be honest, I was really impressed with the DPi.

“I’ve got a lot of experience in the P2 car this year but the DPi was quite a step up in some ways. More grip, more power.

“I think it really gives the driver a lot of confidence, which is really nice. It was also nice to get back working in America and with an American team. I really enjoyed the environment.

“It was a good start and it obviously led to this whole deal coming together. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

Shank said ex-Mazda factory ace Jarvis will get his first taste of the Acura DPi during a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 7-8, where Blomqvist and the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup driver Helio Castroneves will also be in attendance.

When asked by Sportscar365, Shank said both new hirings are employed by MSR, unlike Cameron who had been contracted to Honda Performance Development.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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