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JARVIS: Spa Debrief

Oliver Jarvis files his latest Sportscar365 column after Spa WEC win…

Photo: Audi

Photo: Audi

What a crazy race!

It’s taken longer than it should have, but we finally got that first win as a trio. It was both Lucas’ and my first win in the WEC, and it felt fantastic to be up on that top step of the podium with my two teammates.

The win came against the odds, and if you had asked me before the race the possibility of us finally getting that monkey off our back, I would have replied, “slim.”

The weekend didn’t start well when we suffered a front-axle drivetrain failure in FP1 and were then forced to watch FP2 in the pits.

Fortunately we managed to make it out for FP3 and – despite losing some time due to contact with a GT car – we all managed to get a few laps in the car ahead of Qualifying and the race.

We brought to Spa a configuration of our Le Mans aero and the sister car and us had a handling imbalance especially in Sector 2.

In Qualifying I managed to do a lap 2.5 seconds quicker than we had been up to that point. Loic then took over and kept the same set of tires doing a great job to put us P4, having been pipped by just 4 hundredths of a second by the No. 6 Toyota.

Despite just losing out on P3, we were really pleased with our performance considering the lack of running prior to Qualifying.

Lucas took the start as previously planned, having done just four flying laps in testing and he managed to do a fantastic job early on, to run P2 after the No. 2 Porsche had a hybrid failure before eventually losing out to the No. 5 Toyota.

Lucas was just coming under intense pressure from the No. 6 Toyota, when Mike Conway tried to follow Lucas as he passed an LMP2 into the last chicane, locking up in to the LMP2 and damaging the No. 6 car in the process.

The necessary repairs and subsequent drive-through penalty meant that they returned a lap behind us. It wasn’t long before the leading Porsche also suffered a puncture, promoting us to P2

Loic was second in the car and by the time I got in the car, the No. 6 had retired leaving us in a comfortable P2.

The car had been difficult to drive throughout the race and nothing had changed by the time I got in. I couldn’t believe it when I got the radio call that the No. 5 Toyota had engine trouble and that I would be passing him on track.

As I approached I could see the smoke coming from the rear and knew that it would be the end of their race.

Even now, I have a lot of sympathy for Toyota as they did everything right, but motorsport can be cruel sometimes and we’ve definitely been on the wrong side of luck more often than not.

Crossing the finish line was emotional; as we finally got that important first win as a team.

I loved driving down the pit lane to see my teammates going crazy; not only is the win hugely important for us as a crew, but it gives us a huge boost heading in to Le Mans.

It’s unbelievable that after our issues in Silverstone, we sit P3 in the championship.

Bring on Le Mans!

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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