Oliver Jarvis says he was “pushing” to secure his upcoming GTE-Pro debut with the Risi Competizione Ferrari squad in order to keep a fresh presence in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Next weekend will mark Jarvis’ eighth Le Mans appearance but his first in the GT ranks, having only driven prototypes in previous editions.
The Englishman contested the races between 2010 and 2016 in Audi LMP1 machinery before finishing second overall and first in LMP2 with Jackie Chan DC Racing in 2017, but didn’t race last year.
Jarvis stressed the importance of securing a quick return to Le Mans after missing 2018, noting that his previous GT3 experiences with Bentley and Audi will aid his first steps in GTE.
“I hate missing Le Mans. Being away for one year is one thing, but I didn’t want to extend that to two or three years,” he told Sportscar365.
“Then you risk that your name’s not thought of when opportunities come up. It’s great to be back here, and again in a different car and different class.
“It just means that for me, it’s another tick in a box. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m really pleased.
“I’ve always followed GTE and the battles are immense and I’ve been pushing recently to do a bit of GTE, especially at Le Mans, because I love this race. To be here with Risi and in a Ferrari as well is quite special because they’re a great bunch of people and a really well-organized team.
“I think it helps that I have driven other stuff; I’m not just a prototype driver. The last time I drove a rear-engine car was the Audi R8 [LMS GT3] going back to around 2014 or 2015, so it’s been a long while.
“But I think having the recent GT experience is definitely a positive.”
Jarvis described his first laps of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in the Ferrari during last weekend’s pre-event Test Day as “limited” after some early teething issues affected the team’s run time.
Risi lost roughly an hour of running at the start of the day because all three drivers came in from other races and so needed to attend a late briefing, which took place an hour after the test started.
It then lost more time in the afternoon through a sensor issue which meant it completed a total of 44 laps, which was the lowest number of any GTE-Pro team.
“It was a difficult morning – we had a few issues – but it’s a brand-new car, so it’s to be expected,” commented Jarvis.
“Our running was quite limited, but actually at the end I think we had pretty good pace. We’re leaving here reasonably happy and we’ve got a bit of work to do as well.
“I was just happy to get 15 laps. It wasn’t as much as I’d have liked but we can now go away and work on it ahead of race week.”
While Jarvis has competed in mixed-machinery races as a GT driver before, he reckons the experience will be different at Le Mans.
“I’m enjoying it, but I’m also aware that [traffic] is going to be the hardest thing,” he said.
“The Test Day went well in that respect, I think it’s just learning where they’re going to overtake.
“The LMP1s are fine because they’re so fast – they just pass you then they’re gone. The problem is the LMP2s when they’re passing you late on the brakes.
“It’s when they get you in the last-minute braking where you lose the time. That’s why you see GT drivers – I’ve had it in the past – where they defend on entry into the corner because that, for them, results in the least time loss.
“I’d like to think I always showed respect when I was in a prototype. In GT you’re trying to push a car on the limit when you’ve got guys dive-bombing you and going around the outside. That’s going to be key for me, understanding that.
“Race week is when hopefully we, first of all, finish. But I will also definitely have had a newfound respect and appreciation.”