Tom Blomqvist is hoping his foray into the LMP2 ranks in this weekend’s Six Hours of Shanghai can help expand his horizons, as the BMW factory driver targets a long-term future in sports car racing.
The 22-year-old Brit, the son of Swedish World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, makes his FIA World Endurance Championship debut in the Jagonya Ayam-backed Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 Nissan alongside former F3 teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael.
Blomqvist’s WEC drive comes on the heels of his second season of DTM with BMW Team RBM, in what’s marked a career transition for the 2014 European F3 runner-up.
“It was my first time in the LMP2 car this morning and my first time here in Shanghai but to be honest, the car is not a million miles away from what I’m used to in DTM,” Blomqvist said.
“Obviously it’s still a completely different car. It’s a prototype, it’s 200kg lighter. Your seat position and everything is different. So you have to adapt to those things and feel comfortable in the car.
“I think we should be in a decent position. I like the car, so far what I’ve seen [with] it. I’m quite excited for the weekend.”
Despite making his prototype debut this weekend, Blomqvist is not a complete stranger to the endurance racing scene, having taken part in selected GT races with the BMW M6 GT3 this year.
It’s included the Nürburgring 24 with Walkenhorst Motorsport, a one-off run with ROWE Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season finale, also at the Nürburgring, as well as last weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series race in Zhuhai.
“I’m very fortunate to be there and be a BMW factory driver,” he said. “There’s not many people out there that have factory contracts.
“That gives me a lot of opportunities, not only in DTM but also in GT racing with BMW projects, which keeps me busy.
“I’m also lucky enough to be given chances here in the WEC in LMP2. I think I’m really in a good place right now.”
The second-generation driver said he sees his future in sports car racing, particularly with the potential of being part of BMW’s new factory GTE program in the WEC for 2018.
“Formula One was a dream when I was in the junior formula but it’s a long way away and it’s not what I’m looking towards anymore,” Blomqvist said.
“I’m looking to making a good career in sports car racing and keep that good connection with BMW and see where everything takes me.
“It’s official they’re coming into the WEC in 2018. Obviously it’s in the GTE class. We don’t know who will be driving that as it’s still a while away.
“But I’ve got my DTM program and that’s a really good championship and I’m happy there. It’s a very high level and the most difficult championship I’ve driven.
“I’m pretty excited and happy where I am right now. But let’s see. Obviously the fate is not massively in my hands. I need to perform and that’s it.”
As for this weekend, Blomqvist has set realistic expectations, but also knowing the lineup’s potential.
Giovonazzi, Gelael and recently crowned European Le Mans Series champion Guido Van Der Garde finished fourth in class in their first outing together at Fuji Speedway, after a strong early run by the Italian driver, who currently leads the GP2 championship.
While currently being a one-off drive, Blomqvist is hoping to deliver on Sunday.
“We have the lineup and capability to shoot for a podium,” he said. “The last race in Fuji they were competitive and nearly on the podium. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t and can’t be.
“We just need to keep our heads down and prove the car and improve our driving, get up to speed with the track and we will see what that brings.”