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Oliver Jarvis files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

We left Austin bitterly disappointed, not with the result (P4) but with our performance relative to our competitors.

Having been unlucky at the last race in Mexico with a technical issue, we really wanted to stamp our authority once again in Austin – but it turned into a case of damage limitations.

In the first test session, we struggled with the balance of the car, and like many people were shocked by how the track condition had changed from last year with it being so much bumpier.

We did, however, make some really positive changes over the course of the test sessions, making the car much more drivable and we were quietly confident that we would have a really strong race car.

Thomas and I qualified, and having spent the tests focusing on race set up, we knew that qualifying would be difficult but we were very happy to have qualified P3.

Before the start of the race we were informed that due to the high temperatures, driver time was limited to 80 minutes. This was not long enough for one driver to do a full double stint therefore we decided that we would swap drivers after each stint.

This meant that we would all be getting in the car throughout the race on another drivers set of tires (something that doesn’t usually happen) so we all agreed to really look after them for each other.

I started the race, and did everything possible to look after the tires. By the end of my first stint, the car still felt good and times were quick.

At the stop, we were the only car of the front-runners to not change tires and this allowed us to exit the pits in second position.

Ho-Pin took over the car and it quickly became apparent that we were seriously struggling with tire degradation.

I have to confess that this took us by surprise, as this had been a strength of ours the whole season.

This was a trend that continued throughout the race, and it was only due to a fortunate safety car and good strategy that we crossed the line less than three seconds from a podium position.

Throughout the race due to the differing strategies, we ran at the front on occasion but never had the performance of either the Alpine, who was in a different league, or the two Rebellions.

We now have a few weeks before Fuji, and a lot of work to do as it’s clear our competitors have made huge progress in the last few races and its going to be a thrilling battle for the LMP2 championship.

Oliver Jarvis (@OllyJarvis) is the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winner, driving for Mazda Team Joest in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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