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AXR: IndyCar Test Dashed Blomqvist’s Le Mans Hopes

Action Express director of race team operations Chris Mitchum explains Blomqvist situation…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

A scheduled NTT IndyCar Series test essentially prevented Tom Blomqvist from easily contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Action Express Racing according to the team’s director of race operations Chris Mitchum, who has explained the reason for drafting in Felipe Drugovich into its Hypercar lineup for the French endurance classic.

The reigning IMSA GTP class championship-winning team announced last week that 2022 FIA Formula 2 champion Drugovich will take the third seat in the Whelen Engineering-sponsored Cadillac V-Series.R alongside full-time drivers Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken.

While Blomqvist, who joined Action Express as its third pilot for the majority of the Michelin Endurance Cup races was initially considered, the 2022 IMSA DPi champion had clashing IndyCar commitments.

“We needed a third driver and obviously Tom is busy,” Mitchum told Sportscar365.

“Tom’s full-time job is IndyCar. So every time we’re pulling on him, we’re taking something away. I think it was a mutual agreement, more than anything.”

While this year’s Le Mans test day clashes with the IndyCar race at Road America, Sportscar365 understands that Blomqvist, along with several other IndyCar drivers, are committed a hybrid test at Milwaukee that would have further compromised his time at Circuit de la Sarthe.

“They’ve got a pretty important test leading right up to it,” Mitchum explained. “There will be IndyCar drivers at Le Mans but the logistics to get from that test to still make enough laps…

“It’s more about the timing of the test. The days that you have to set up beforehand, most drivers would get in Thursday or Friday [before the Le Mans test] but if you’re doing that test, you won’t get in until after the test day.

“If something does happen to go wrong and you don’t get the laps in the car… It was more stress than we needed.

“I know Tom wanted to do it and we would have loved to have had him but I think we’re going to be very happy with Felipe too.”

Blomqvist added: “Obviously the team (Action Express) wanted me to, I had done Daytona and Sebring, but the right thing for me to do was to focus on my IndyCar season. It’s an intense calendar during that part of the season, so I’m focusing here (on IndyCar) first.”

Mitchum spoke highly of Drugovich, who already completed a test with the team at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last month.

“It’s going to be outstanding,” Mitchum said. “He’s had a little bit of time in the car here in the States. He did test in the car at Laguna.”

Blomqvist will return to the team for the final two Endurance Cup races of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Motul Petit Le Mans, respectively.

Action Express in “Really Good Shape” for Second Le Mans Outing

The North Carolina-based operation, which gained an invite to Le Mans by winning the IMSA GTP teams’ championship last year, is returning to Le Mans with the lessons learned from a year ago according to Mitchum.

“We’re in really good shape for Le Mans,” he said. “I think just the comfort level of the entire team…

“I was able to do Le Mans from a spectator standpoint before and had a good view of it. But having so many of the returning team knowing what we’re heading into [is a huge benefit].

“Of course our preparation level is going to be strong. Last year, of course, we didn’t have the greatest first lap but we were able to recover and finish the race.

“It’s much more in the small details now. Every nut, bolt and washer and piece you want to have, there isn’t anything we can think of that we’re lacking.

“It’s no different than racing in IMSA. We try and get better every time.

“Overall from the preparation standpoint, it’s stronger but we were in pretty good shape last year too. It’s just once you do it again, you can do it a little bit better.”

Mitchum said its Le Mans chassis, which completed a shakedown at Laguna Seca last month, is set to be air-freighted to France on May 20.

It has served as the team’s spare WeatherTech Championship chassis in the California races after its primary IMSA car was damaged in Derani’s accident at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

That car, Mitchum said, will be repaired and is set to serve as the team’s backup chassis for the WeatherTech Championship races in Detroit and Watkins Glen.

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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