IMSA Wire – DPi 2022 Season Review: Meyer Shank Prevails in Last Hurrah for Class

DPi 2022 Season Review: Meyer Shank Prevails in Last Hurrah for Class
Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis Bring Home the Title for the No. 60 Acura in the Final Year for DPi Competition

October 12, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –The season began with a rousing win. It ended with a championship.
The final season of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class became a showdown between two Acura teams – Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. The two battled door-to-door through 10 races, eventually reaching the final round separated by just 19 points.
It ended as it started – with Meyer Shank Racing celebrating.
When Tom Blomqvist crossed the finish line first Oct. 1 in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, it marked a third DPi championship for Acura, which won six of the 10 DPi races on the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.
For Blomqvist, who joined Oliver Jarvis as the full-time drivers of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 in January, the Rolex 24 At Daytona was a loud introduction.
“I was speechless after the race,” Blomqvist said after teaming with Jarvis, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud to win the Rolex 24. “I mean, I dreamed of it. Did I believe? Yes, but you never know. It’s 24 hours of relentless racing. And every time I jumped in the car, at moments I felt really comfortable. At moments I was, like, ‘Man, I can’t get this car to work.’”
Spoiler alert: He got the car to work.
Over the next nine races, Blomqvist and Jarvis turned consistency into a championship trophy, winning only one more race but piling up five consecutive second-place finishes and the Petit victory to claim team, driver and manufacturer championships. It wasn’t easy, no matter how it added up.
Jarvis, the DPi veteran who has seen his share of DPi duels, empathized with WTR co-drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor as Petit Le Mans ended with MSR winning the race and the championship over the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05.
“I’ve been on the receiving end where I led a few years back and had an issue and failed to be leading, so I know how it feels,” Jarvis said. “They had a fantastic year, so full credit to them, but for Meyer Shank to come away with a championship is something really special.”
The intense competition in the DPi class this season – the last before Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) becomes the top prototype class in 2023 – was exemplified by the fact that the points lead changed after every race. The two Acuras exchanged it exclusively through the final seven events.
After the opening 1-2 finish at Daytona, the two Acura teams stumbled in the next round. Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Neel Jani combined to win the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R as the No. 10 Acura finished fourth and the No. 60 MSR Acura finished fifth.
Cadillac would remain in the points chase to the end, albeit peripherally as the season wound down. The No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac and co-drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande won three races and finished third in the final standings.
After the disappointment of Sebring, three wins in four midseason races put Wayne Taylor Racing back in front. The third of those victories – a wild run to the finish by Albuquerque in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June – flipped the points in the No. 10 team’s favor. More importantly, it continued Acura’s gains on Cadillac.
“It’s very tight,” Taylor said after the victory at Watkins Glen International. “The nice thing that we’re going to take out of it is that we continue to build a gap to Cadillac. At the end of the day, we really want to bring a championship for Acura.”

The key to MSR’s championship may have been as simple as scouting. Blomqvist had experience in prototypes, including a Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) win in the 2018 24 Hours of Spa, but the 2022 season marked his first foray into the WeatherTech Championship’s top class.
Team co-owner Jim Meyer explained Blomqvist’s “discovery” at the Rolex 24 postrace press conference.
“Tom doesn’t know this,” Meyer said as Blomqvist listened. “But the first time he tested for us, Mike called me and said, ‘We’ve got our guy. We’ve got our guy.’”
Just as Blomqvist had shown in the season-opening victory, the team was ready for anything the season had to offer.
“Every stint here is just flat out,” Blomqvist said after the Rolex 24. “You’re managing so many things. You feel like you’re racing nose to tail from literally the green light. So, it’s very different from what I’m used to, and honestly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Nine races later, with a trophy in hand, he wasn’t alone.

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Blomqvist’s Hunch Comes True in DPi Title Run for No. 60 Acura

Blomqvist’s Hunch Comes True in DPi Title Run for No. 60 Acura
The Meyer Shank Racing Co-Driver Woke up with a ‘Feeling’ His Team Would Win the Motul Petit Le Mans

October 5, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

BRASELTON, Ga. – Tom Blomqvist woke up Saturday with a feeling he couldn’t shake, a premonition about how the rest of his day would play out.
“I just had this sort of feeling that we were going to win the thing,” he said. “I don’t really know why.”
Good instincts. Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves combined to win the 25th annual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta to claim the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class championship in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.
Not a bad outcome for a team that didn’t rejoin the WeatherTech Championship’s top class until last year, and at times in 2021 struggled to sort out its Acura ARX-05 and make it perform more consistently.
This year, consistency was the hallmark of Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian. Its No. 60 car finished outside the podium just three times in 10 races. During one stretch, Blomqvist and Jarvis finished second five consecutive times. Frustrating, no doubt, but those five runner-up finishes set the foundation for a championship.
Fitting, then, that MSR’s performance in the 10-hour season finale was a masterful yet consistent work of art.
“We were faultless, flawless,” Blomqvist said. “The guys in the pits and the engineers with the strategy – all year long we’ve been pretty consistent. It’s just fantastic.”
They weren’t the only ones who impressed. So did the other team battling for the championship. The all-Acura duel between MSR and Wayne Taylor Racing came down to the final minutes and a close battle between the No. 60 and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 driven by Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley.
The drama reached its zenith when Albuquerque tried to pass Blomqvist heading into Turn 1 with 14 minutes remaining. As the chase moved up the hill into Turn 2, the No. 10 made contact with a lapped GT car. Resulting rear suspension damage ended the pursuit.
“I’m simply devastated with the ending,” Albuquerque said. … “It was a bit inglorious to finish like that. So competitive and tight fun today, but it is what it is.”
Albuquerque also apologized publicly on Twitter, where his teammate praised him in response. “You drive like a hero,” Taylor tweeted.
Taylor wasn’t the only one commending the effort by the No. 10 group. Jarvis took a moment during the postrace press conference to acknowledge WTR’s effort before praising the decisions of his own crew, including strategist Ryan McCarthy and performance director Vincent Forges.
“These are stressful situations,” Jarvis said. “You’ve got myself and Tom and Helio and about 20 other people having an opinion. They managed to take that all in and really soak it up and stay extremely calm when some of us weren’t.”
The MSR group wasn’t alone in celebrating into the early hours Sunday. Four other championships were decided at Petit, some of them by narrow margins:
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2): Tower Motorsport won its third consecutive Petit Le Mans as its No. 8 ORECA LMP2 07 co-driven by John Farano, Louis Deletraz and Rui Pinto de Andrade won the team championship while Farano clinched the driver’s title.
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3): The No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320 co-driven by Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and George Kurtz recovered from a spin to finish fifth and claim the driver championship for Braun and Bennett and team championship for CORE.
Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO): Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell clinched the driver and team championships for the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with the start of Saturday’s race, where it finished the race third in class with Jaminet, Campbell and Felipe Nasr co-driving.
Grand Touring Daytona (GTD): Roman De Angelis finished seventh in class in the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to clinch the driver and team championships by just 21 points over the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and co-drivers Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen.
And, after a full season of back-and-forth between the two Acura-powered DPi teams, the win-or-lose part of it came down to the final minutes of a 10-hour race that at times was tense for all.
“Just watching Tom’s on-board (camera) at the end, I think my heart rate was probably as high as his in the car,” Jarvis said. “To win this race in the manner he did, you have to take chances. You have to take risks.
“If people at home could watch as much of the on-board as we do, you’d realize what it takes to be quick around here and win the race. It’s a calculated risk, but you also put a lot of faith in your competitor. It’s an amazing place. Everybody wants to win Petit Le Mans.”

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IMSA Wire: Record Lap from Blomqvist Sends No. 60 Acura to Watkins Glen Pole

Record Lap from Blomqvist Sends No. 60 Acura to Watkins Glen Pole
Keating Keeps Cruising in LMP2; Varrone Takes LMP3 Pole in IMSA Debut

June 25, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

Provisional Qualifying Results

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Tom Blomqvist picked the right time for his first Motul Pole Award in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Blomqvist turned a lap of 1 minute, 29.580 seconds (136.637 mph) Saturday – a track record for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class – to claim pole position for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. He’ll lead the field around the 11-turn, 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International circuit when the green flag waves Sunday morning.

“We put a big focus on qualifying this weekend,” said Blomqvist, who will co-drive the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 with Oliver Jarvis. “The championship is tight and every point counts.”

The pole let Blomqvist and Jarvis expand their lead in the WeatherTech Championship driver standings to 13 points over Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who qualified second in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 at 1:29.744.

“It’s a six-hour race, so a lot can happen,” Blomqvist said. “But it definitely makes your life a lot easier to start at the front. That was definitely a focus of ours this weekend.”

From Le Mans to Watkins Glen, Keating is quick

Fresh from his win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ben Keating kept the momentum going Saturday by winning the top starting spot in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.

Keating, who won the GTE Am class at Le Mans on June 12, was clocked at 1:33.930 (130.309 mph) Saturday in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 he shares with Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker.

Keating won the Motul Pole Award by just 0.001 seconds over the team’s No. 11 ORECA driven by Steven Thomas. Keating’s lap was more than a second faster than his qualifying lap at Watkins Glen in 2021.

“That’s far and away the fastest lap I’ve ever done around Watkins Glen,” Keating said. “It’s a track that feels so good to do a really quick lap. … It’s just hard to imagine.”

First visit to The Glen? No problem for Varrone in LMP3

Nico Varrone made good use of his first visit to Watkins Glen.

Before Thursday, the Argentinian hadn’t seen WGI or worked with FastMD Racing. Two days later, he claimed the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) pole with a lap of 1:40.028 (122.365 mph) in the No. 40 Duqueine D08 he co-drives with Max Hanratty and James Vance.

“It was amazing,” Varrone said. “I’m really happy. I’m really happy to be racing in America. It’s my first time and I’m enjoying it a lot. Everyone is amazing, the fans are amazing. It’s really cool. It’s not finished, the job. We have a long race tomorrow.”

The race – the seventh on the 2022 WeatherTech Championship schedule and third round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup – begins at 10:40 a.m. ET Sunday, with flag-to-flag coverage live on Peacock. USA Network joins on TV at 2 p.m. It also will be carried live on IMSA Radio (including XM Radio 207 and SiriusXM Web/App 992) as well as the international stream on IMSA.com/TVLive.

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IMSA Wire: Acura Holds True to Early Form at Mid-Ohio Practice

Acura Holds True to Early Form at Mid-Ohio Practice
BMW Edges Lexus for Honors in GTD

May 13, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Recent history suggests there are two manufacturer favorites heading into the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio, the fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Acura is undefeated at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) era dating to 2018, with Ricky Taylor – who currently shares the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi with Filipe Albuquerque – taking the overall race win in three of the last four years.

In the GT Daytona (GTD) class for production-based cars built to international GT3 regulations, Lexus has enjoyed similar success. Lexus won its first WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio in 2018, and the RC F GT3 triumphed again in 2019 and ’20 before the streak ended with a second-place finish in 2021.

Acura backed up those statistics at Mid-Ohio on Friday in a 90-minute practice session ahead of Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race. Albuquerque turned the fastest lap of the day, timed at 1 minute, 11.828 seconds (113.170 mph), narrowly edging the No. 60 Meyer-Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura driven by Tom Blomqvist (1:11.904/113.050 mph).

Taylor and Albuquerque are coming off a victory in the last WeatherTech Championship event two weeks ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where Albuquerque anchored the win in a tense duel to the finish with Blomqvist.

The two Acura teams enter the Mid-Ohio weekend deadlocked at the top of the DPi point standings. Taylor acknowledged that the Acuras need to capitalize on weekends like this against their competitors from Cadillac.

“For the Acura, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio and Road America are the places we really need to do our job to get the most points possible,” Taylor said.

“This is kind of a replay of the game plan from Laguna. We need to go win the race and get the most points again because once we get to Detroit, we expect it to swing back the other way.”

Jarvis, Blomqvist’s co-driver in the No. 60 MSR Acura, shares the same mindset.

“It’s important that we capitalize at tracks that do suit the Acura and come away with maximum points,” Jarvis said. “This is (team co-owner) Mike Shank’s home race, and amazingly, the team has never won here. We want to put that right, Tom and myself.”

Earl Bamber was quickest among the four Cadillacs on Friday, with a lap of 1:12.330 (112.384 mph) in the No. 02 Cadillac Accessories entry operated by Chip Ganassi Racing.

In GTD, two-time Mid-Ohio winner Jack Hawksworth set the pace in the No. 17 Vasser Sullivan Lexus until a late lap by Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT3 stole class honors. Foley’s effort was clocked at 1:21.220 (100.083 mph).

Bryan Sellers was third fastest in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, with Aaron Telitz – who won with Hawksworth at Mid-Ohio in 2020 – fourth in the No. 12 Lexus.

In the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class, Ryan Dalziel took over at the top of the timing chart with just six minutes remaining in the practice. His lap of 1:13.478 (110.628 mph) in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 was 0.407 seconds better than Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport ORECA.

In Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), Colin Braun set the benchmark with a 1:17.603 (104.748 mph) effort in the CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320.

A second practice starts at 9 a.m. ET Saturday on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Motul Pole Award qualifying streams live on IMSA.com/TVLive at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

The race airs live on USA Network beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Koch Collects Second Straight Michelin Pilot Challenge Pole

Unofficial Qualifying Results

Kenton Koch put the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 on the overall and Grand Sport (GS) pole position for the second consecutive IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race with his effort Friday at Mid-Ohio.

Koch’s best lap of 1:27.126 backed up the pole position he claimed two weeks ago at WeatherTech Raceway. It elevated his career poles total to three in the series. The GS qualifying session was tight throughout, with the top four qualifiers within 0.063 seconds of each other. Alexandre Premat was second in the No 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport at 1:27.182.

Tiago Monteiro, the former Formula One and IndyCar driver making his series debut, put the No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR on pole in the Touring Car (TCR) class with a lap of 1:28.829. It was 0.342 seconds better than 2020 TCR champion Gabby Chaves in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.

Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 120 starts at 4:05 p.m. and streams live on Peacock.

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Media Release: Michelin 2022 Rolex 24

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Michelin Kicks off 2022 IMSA Season With Record Success at Rolex 24

  • Multiple lap records in spite of extreme cold track temperatures
  • Michelin averages 5,517 race miles per hour for 24 Hours
  • MSR Acura, Pfaff Porsche, Wright Porsche take Rolex Class wins
  • Dragon Speed USA, Riley Motorsports Claim LMP Honors
Daytona Beach, FL—Jan. 30, 2021 – Michelin delivered an impressive performance of speed and endurance, with an added ability to set multiple lap records in extremely cold race temperatures in the 60th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The opening race of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Championship drew a powerful array of 61 entries and a star-studded line-up of 230 drivers representing 26 countries.

“Seeing the track record broken repeatedly in cold overnight conditions is a tribute to our Michelin engineers, who work hard to deliver versatile tires with a wide range of performance,” said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.

With more than 13 hours of the 24-hour race taking place after Saturday’s sunset, Michelin engineers reported overnight temperatures of 31(F) degrees with track temperatures of 33 degrees.

Despite 16 caution periods, the Michelin field completed 37,197 laps, a total of 132,421 miles, or 5,517.55 miles per hour.

Acura Meyer Shank Racing takes overall victory

After being the only DPi class entrant not to win a race in 2021 — the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura DPi turned the page and won the Rolex 24 with drivers Helio Castroneves, Oliver Jarvis, Simon Pagenaud and Tom Blomqvist. Castroneves led the team to the checkered flag, holding off Ricky Taylor with Acura Wayne Taylor Racing. Finishing third was the Cadillac of JDC Miller Motorsports.

IndyCar rivals team up to win LMP2 class, Riley Motorsports defends LMP3 victory

DragonSpeed USA called on the talents of two IndyCar stars, Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta, to win Rolex watches. The move paid off with the No. 81 car finishing first with teammates Eric Lux and Devlin Defrancesco. Racing Team Nederland took runner-up and Tower Motorsport finished third.

Riley Motorsports won the LMP3 class for the second time in a row. The team made up of Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Kay Van Berlo and Michael Cooper brought the No. 74 to victory lane. Sean Creech Motorsport placed second and Core Autosport took third.

Porsche Pfaff Motorsport takes GTDPRO debut, Porsche Wright Motorsports triumphs in GTD

The No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3R won the first race of the GTDPRO class in IMSA with a thrilling finish. Mathieu Jaminet and Laurens Vanthoor of Porsche KCMG went toe-to-toe during the final laps. Jaminet joined teammates Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr in victory lane. Ferrari Risi Competizione crossed the finish line in second while KCMG took the last spot on the podium.

Porsche Wright Motorsports took home Rolex watches with Ryan Hardwick, Zacharie Robichon, Jan Heylen and Richard Lietz. The No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R beat the No. 44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Finishing third was the No. 32 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports.

Porsche RS1 and Alfa Romeo KMW Motorsports open Michelin Pilot Challenge season with wins

The BMW M Endurance Challenge saw a large 48-car field at Daytona. The race in GS was won by RS1 in a Porsche 718 GT4 RS CS driven by Eric Filgueiras and Stevan McAleer. This was Filgueiras’ first IMSA race ever. McAleer praised Michelin after the race saying, “How we won this race today, comfortably, is that the car didn’t fall off. I am blown away that the Michelin tire could go that long on this car; same brake and turn-in points over the stint.”

The TCR class was conquered by Roy Block and Tim Lewis in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce for KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering. Both these teams took home the IMSA Radio Michelin Moment of the Race as well.

Robert Wickens makes triumphant return to racing with podium finish
The racing world celebrated the Canadian’s return to full-time racing in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. This was Robert Wicken’s first race back since being paralyzed in a crash nearly four years ago. He and teammate Mark Wilkins finished third in the Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N. Michelin spoke to Wickens about his return. Watch here.
Michelin Post-Race Notes

  • Imagine adding up the number of drivers from the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, and the Grand Prix of Monaco. The total would still be less than half the number of drivers competing in the Rolex 24 Hours. Watch the Michelin Tire Tech minute to learn what that means for logistical support.
  • The ‘Démonstrateur 46’ tire was at the Rolex 24 showcasing Michelin’s commitment to sustainability. Learn more about this race tire that contains 46% sustainable materials by watching here
  • Four new qualifying and race records were set over the Roar and Rolex 24 weekends. Rene Rast set a new mark in LMP2 qualifying for G-Drive Racing By APR with a 1:35.789 lap. Alex Palou with Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing set a race record in DPi with a 1:33.724 lap. The LMP2 race record was broken by Paul-Loup Chatin No.18 Era Motorsport with a 1:35.532 lap. Felipe Fraga set a new race record in LMP3 with a 1:42.133 lap for Riley Motorsports.

Next Up

The 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship now heads to Florida for the 70thAnnual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 19th. The race can be seen in its entirety on Peacock and on USA from 3:30pm-10:30pm.

Additional Hi-Res Images

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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the flagship series of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). Michelin is the Official Tire of IMSA.

Within the WeatherTech Championship, there are five classes: DPi, LMP2, LMP3, GTLM and GTD.

f8563177-fa93-4213-906e-6974fb01943a.jpg
The Michelin Endurance Cup comprises the four longest races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship year and features four races with distinct histories in sports car racing.

Races in Daytona (24 hours), Sebring (12), Watkins Glen (6) and Michelin Raceway (10) and make up 52 hours of racing. Points are awarded at different intervals in each race, and champions are crowned at Petit Le Mans.

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Michelin serves as both the Official Tire and title sponsor of the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge. The naming convention for this series refers to the MICHELIN® Pilot® line of tires.

This series features two classes of production-based cars: GS, which features GT4-specification cars, and TCR, which features TCR specification cars.

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The new Porsche Carrera Cup North America series is IMSA sanctioned and has been 30 years in the making.

This one-make series competes in the United States and Canada. It utilizes a combination of the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, type 992, and MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport Cup N3 racing slick to challenge the best road and street race courses on the continent.

b41dd6a3-f955-471f-af3e-5069db49a927.jpg
The IMSA Prototype Challenge is one of IMSA’s two Challenge series, which serve as a ladder and support series to the WeatherTech Championship.

Michelin is the Official Tire of the Prototype Challenge series, which features entry-level prototype racing on IMSA race weekends with LMP3 cars.

Follow Michelin Racing USA on social media

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Further information:

About Michelin North America

Michelin, the leading mobility company, is dedicated to enhancing its customers’ mobility, and sustainably; designing and distributing the most innovative tires, services and solutions for its customers’ needs; providing digital services, maps and guides to help enrich trips and travels and make them unique experiences; and developing high-technology materials that serve a variety of industries. Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, Michelin North America has approximately 23,000 employees and operates 34 production facilities in the United States and Canada. (michelinman.com)

ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA winner transcript

January 30, 2022

Helio Castroneves

Simon Pagenaud

Tom Blomqvist

Oliver Jarvis

Michael Shank

Jim Meyer

Daytona, Florida, USA

Media Conference

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by the DPi winners.

Simon, your first Rolex 24 at Daytona victory. Goes nice with an Indianapolis 500 victory, an INDYCAR Series championship. Just what does this mean to you to be a Rolex 24 winner with this group in really your first time out with Meyer Shank team?

SIMON PAGENAUD: I know it sounds pretty good, that’s for sure. I’m very proud and excited to be part of this racing. Sports car racing brought me to the forefront of the racing scene. I always loved to come back and have a chance to be on the top team like Meyer Shank Racing.

Personally, it’s amazing to think about what has gone on since we decided to work together. Joining Helio obviously on the INDYCAR side and also on the sports car side with Oliver and Tom. Fit right away. Felt like the relationship started really quickly to grow. And also felt like the vibe was right.

And this weekend it felt like, okay, we had some setbacks, but we fought and everybody kept a good spirit. Obviously my mate, Helio, he’s really good at doing that in the team. It was a great atmosphere and obviously good people get good results and get what they deserve.

Just very happy, very proud of the entire team, quite frankly. It’s my first race with Meyer Shank Racing. But if you look closely at what happened today, the strategy was just fantastic, fantastic. Every stops, I believe, we were the fastest on pit lane. I haven’t seen the numbers but I can guarantee you we were. And the guys did a great job in the pits, no mistakes. Execution was amazing.

But first and foremost was the strategy. We were able to save fuel and go longer than anyone. And the team, the strategy and Mike and Ryan, they set themselves up to make sure at the end we would put less fuel in the car, would take us less time to leapfrog everybody, basically, in the pits. And that’s exactly what happened.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: And also find out what’s our rhythm, saving fuel, what can we do with that, and it paid off.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Absolutely. And wanted to say kudos to the entire team, because we can’t do it without them. And today was a team win.

Q. Helio, a year ago, wins the Rolex 24 for the first time, with the team in the car that he ended up having to beat today to do it again. So, two in a row in between a little race called the Indy 500 for the fourth time. Last year’s win–

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Mike, let’s go to Le Mans. Let’s go!

SIMON PAGENAUD: I speak French.

Q. Could you put into context what this last year and a little bit, starting back with the WeatherTech Championship you won in 2020 and right where we are now?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: It’s taken momentum. When Ricky and I won the championship in 2020, me winning the Rolex last year, and then jumping with Mike and Jim for the Indy 500, we knew — it’s all about, it sounds clich�, but it’s all about belief: I believe in them; they believe in me. This is exactly what’s happened with this group here.

With Simon and Tom and Oliver, we all believe, and the team, obviously, that we could do it. We know the hard work. We know that everybody in this entire series, we know that everybody worked really hard. It’s a very competitive series. Very difficult.

And Jim always reminds us of that, right, Jim? He always says, I didn’t know it was going to be that hard and so difficult. It should. However, when we accomplish what we just did today, oh, it’s priceless.

So in my case, I’m still very much passionate about it, learning every day, having new teammates like Tom and Oliver — I know Simon from a long time — improving my driving skills and looking to everyone here. So that makes a better driver. That’s why I enjoy it. That’s why I have fun and that’s why probably when you go out there you push as hard as you can to win the Rolex.

SIMON PAGENAUD: And he’s only getting better.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: That’s right. I said it’s amazing. Right, Mike?

MICHAEL SHANK: You did.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Keep it going.

JIM MEYER: Last year, when Helio and Wayne Taylor and the team won, I told him how much we wanted to win this race. And being Helio, he immediately sends me a picture of the Rolex watch, literally as I’m getting off the airplane last year. Maybe this one works now. Send me a picture now I’m happy.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: No problem, Jim.

Q. First overall win, you had a GT class win in 2013. Obviously first time out here with this team after a long time with the Mazda program. How gratified are you to have gotten the call to be a part of this? And certainly what does it mean to get this right off the bat?

OLIVER JARVIS: Like you say, come close a couple times with Mazda. I won a class win but I wanted to win the overall win. It’s such a special event. Special race. To win it overall is an amazing feeling.

And to do it with Mike and the team, I think Simon and Helio really touched on it, it’s a real team effort. I was so impressed, sat up on the pit wall, throughout that race. It was so calm and methodical, the way they went about approaching the race. It was like they had won the race ten times already.

I wasn’t on the pit wall for the last hour, but up until that point, absolutely faultless, calm heads. That’s what wins you races. Full credit to the team. It’s been an amazing experience so far. We’ve still got a full season to go. A lot of hard work to go.

I’ve still got a lot to learn. New to the car. And I just hope we can keep on getting better. This is the first of many.

Q. Tom, first Rolex 24, first start, ironically the car you were supposed to drive a few years ago went on to win the race — we don’t have to go into too much detail unless you want to. But how big a deal is it for you to go get this win finally?

TOM BLOMQVIST: I was speechless after the race. I mean, I dreamed of it. Did I believe? Yes. But you never know. I mean, it’s 24 hours of relentless racing. And every time I jumped in the car, moments I felt really comfortable. At moments I was, like, man, I can’t get this car to work.

It was just a roller coaster of a race. And every stint here is just flat out. You’re managing so many things. You feel like you’re racing nose to tail from literally the green light.

So it’s very different to what I’m used to. And honestly I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed teaming up with these two monkeys. They’re supposed to be the mature ones, but they’re definitely not.

But the atmosphere within the team has been splendid. And I’ve really enjoyed my short time here at MSR. And to cap that off with a win on debut is fantastic.

And I would just like to thank everyone, thank Mike, thank Jim for putting their faith in me and giving me this opportunity. And hopefully today I was able to repay a little bit of faith that they put in me. And, yeah, it’s been great so far. So hopefully this is just the beginning.

Q. Jim, as we kind of mentioned already, Indy 500 win last summer. Now you’ve got a Rolex 24 win. What does that mean to you as part of this program?

JIM MEYER: Tell you a funny story. When I met Mike, and he and I were talking through how would we put our team together and what would we do, I said to him, God, the two races we’ve got to win, I want to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24. As we were standing on the bank, I said I’m out now.

[LAUGHTER]

It just really means everything. We tried to have a team that we’re very loyal to people. We try to have a team where we encourage really, really hard work, but we also try to encourage a family atmosphere, one that people get along and people can trust each other.

I think our execution by these four was flawless, and our team. Those are the best stops — it was really flawless. We just kept getting better and better as the race went on.

And our guys, in terms of strategy, this is a hard sport. I didn’t realize how hard it was until I got into it. It’s really hard. And a day like today makes you forget all the other ones, put it that way.

Q. Mike, this is your second Rolex 24 win. The last one came 10 years on the 50th. Appropriately enough today is number 60, with the number 60 car. You’ve got fond memories of that first win here. Put this one next to that one a little bit if you can?

MICHAEL SHANK: The first thing I’ve got to say is that that day was really special with John Pew and Ozz Negri and AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. We lost Justin in Pocono in 2015. And so I kind of think about that first, which is, I don’t know, I just think about that and what went on there.

But to do what we did that year, which was just really catapulted the team and the business to another level really kind of started our trajectory that we’re at today. And I’m really grateful for that and met so many great people. My wife and I put everything on the line for the place.

And it started with Jim France putting his arm around me and not ever letting go. And then I met Jim about four years ago and my life got much worse.

[LAUGHTER]

Sorry, completely wrong.

Anyways, super happy day. The 50th and 60th is super special. Winning the Indy 500 is great. But I’m so competitive. I was going so crazy today. We came out of the gate and we went from — where did we start? The fourth — the last.

TOM BLOMQVIST: We sucked.

MICHAEL SHANK: What the (expletive) is going on here? And we got much better and I stopped talking on the intercom, got better.

I’m appreciative of everybody here, including our the sponsors, SiriusXM and Otter Nation and Arctic Wolf and obviously the big one is Acura and Honda and HPD — these folks believed in me six, seven years ago. And I could just not do this without Jon Ikeda and David Salters and Kelvin [phonetic], and the guys at the top end that made sure we got the deal.

Q. Mike, what does it mean to get the first DPi win after all the trials and tribulations and coming so close?

MICHAEL SHANK: We needed it bad, real bad. We had a tough year last year, and I made it very public. And I didn’t want to run from the truth, which was we had a bad year.

We set out to fix it. I told the guys here’s the same thing: Here’s where we were; here we’re going; and I’m not stopping until we get some kind of closure and some competitive level that we’re used to dealing with in the sports car world.

Today proved we’re the right track. We’ve got a long way to go, but I liked our execution today and I’m just relieved today, just completely relieved.

Q. To do it with an entirely almost new lineup. [Inaudible]?

MICHAEL SHANK: These guys are very specifically part of this program. You can see Helio and Simon easily being here, but these two guys, I looked at them, I saw every document I could see on their speed and what they’re doing, the capabilities, the experience. And I just picked who I thought could be virtually the same speed and have the same kind of sensibility.

I still don’t know if I got it right. But we’ll see what happens at the end of the year. But I don’t know, looking at some data and making a gut choice, you know.

Q. Mike, did you know — to win the Indy 500 and now the Rolex 24 with Helio — I know you knew you were getting a championship-level driver, but has he surpassed your expectations?

MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah. He’s sitting in the room so it’s hard to talk about him. But he’s got everything covered in every spectrum of driving, from the business side to the driving side, to the saving fuel, to the performance.

And a lot of people talk about his age. But I kind of see through that. And we made a decision, Jim and I, that we wanted to go with someone with experience when we came up with the budget last year to do six races with him. And there was young guys out there deserved something.

We felt for our business at this time we needed to make an impression at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s what we set about doing.

Q. Tom, the decision to hand off to Helio, I heard your TV interview. I know that wasn’t easy, necessarily. But could you talk us through what that was like.

TOM BLOMQVIST: Obviously it would have been fantastic to finish the race, but I’ve been in the car quite a while. And I was pretty cooked at that point. And I was busting for a way for the last two hours. That didn’t make my life very easy.

But Helio had been super strong all race. So it wasn’t like we were going to give anything away there. And when you’re pretty cooked, it’s never — you can only mess it up, let’s say.

So, but, no, Helio did a fantastic job. And I think ultimately it just came down to — it was still an hour or a bit to go in the race. And it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? So, I think ultimately we made the right call there.

Q. Helio, I heard you say, tell Marty Snyder, bucket list, you’re ticking them off. Is Le Mans the next big one?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I’d love to. I’ve never been there. I would love to try obviously. Gotta go to those big events. Since I moved here, yes, Daytona was my goal to win. And being at Le Mans, we almost did it, almost got it, but unfortunately with the clash of schedules wasn’t able to do it.

So I don’t think we were just talking about age is a problem. I think I’m not running out of time. I’m just getting more experience. And experiencing in this type of race is the key to be successful.

Q. Another big race coming up here in three weeks?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I would love to. I spoke with — when I did SRX, I spoke with Everenham and Tony Stewart, said, hey, find me a car and I’ll jump in. I’m sure a lot of people would like to see me. Who knows what’s going to happen? And they talk about it, but nothing, didn’t get traction.

But I love to race. This is me. It’s been my entire life. And I admire respect. I know it’s not easy. I understand everyone has your specialty. And that’s why, when I moved to IMSA I believed I started getting better because you start exploring more of your race craft. And today the big win was because of that. I knew my competitors. I knew what I needed to do and I did.

Q. I heard you make the Tom Brady comparison like you did at Indy with him and Phil Mickelson?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was a rumor he was going to retire. No, he can’t retire, no, he’s my mojo. Obviously this is, all jokes aside, when you cross over sports, Tom Brady, we talk about golf with Phil Mickelson and myself at this point, when you have passion, when you study, you have a team behind you to support and teammates, racing is very competitive sport. You’ve just got to keep doing your homework. I’ve been disciplined and the result will show up. No question.

Q. Simon, your first watch, I know this means a lot to you. And you’re one of five INDYCAR drivers to get a watch today, which is pretty significant. Could you talk about all that?

SIMON PAGENAUD: Absolutely. For me, it’s about ticking off the big races. Having won Indianapolis and now Daytona 24 it feels special. I was lucky to run in Le Mans in the past and finish 13 seconds behind the leader in second place. Hopefully someday maybe I’ll come back over there and try to get that, too.

But, yeah, let’s go. I can show you places. I have a house not too far.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Nice. Perfect.

SIMON PAGENAUD: We’ll set up.

TOM BLOMQVIST: Jim, Mike, taking notes? Taking notes right now?

SIMON PAGENAUD: It’s obviously, I’m super proud. I’ll tell you the truth I’m thinking my son. I was thinking that he’s going to be proud of me later on that I won those races. Personally, that’s what I’m thinking about.

Q. Mike, 10 years ago you were here. Couldn’t get an INDYCAR engine. Fledgling team. You’ve been in the Rolex then. You build this. You keep building and building. You win an Indy 500. I’m wondering, what clicked? What changed?

MICHAEL SHANK: I mean, I think it did actually. In 2017, I got the Acura NSX deal to run in GTD which was a big thing for our company. And I was really proud to do really well for that program for four years.

But when the Prototype came open, we jumped at it. Truly when he came in ’18, just opened another network of people, of people we could talk to about partnerships. And it’s just blossomed.

And we have a new shop on east side of Columbus, Ohio, that’s beautiful, and we’re set up for the future. And commercially I think we can grow a little bit more.

But what we want is wins and championships and not quantity. We want to run two of something, or maybe three. But not 10 — we want to keep real focused and deliver with our partners and OEMs and let it fall where it will.

But it’s just crazy what’s going on right now. It really is. It’s hard for me to believe sometime.

Q. What made you know that Helio could be the guy for you?

MICHAEL SHANK: Again, numbers, looking at numbers. When Roger moved him to SportsCar we looked at his last season of INDYCAR, and it looked still pretty sporty to me. It really did, when we’re looking at top fives and top tens and polls and wins. I was, like, I don’t know.

As we all know, IMS is the place. And I can argue about this, but I think I probably have two of the better guys, and probably Colton back there at the IMS. That’s what this is all about is what can we do at the Speedway? How much effort can we put into it and get the result at the Speedway?

I believe I have this year when I roll in there with these two guys, I’ve got two or three of the top guys.

Q. Helio, you spent a long time trying to win your fourth Indy 500. In the last one and a half or so years, you won your first career championship, two Rolexes and your fourth Indy 500 and you’re 46 years old. What’s your secret?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Passion. Passion. When you love what you do and you enjoy it and you have fun and you are surrounded by great people, it makes it happen. That’s the secret.

Q. How much racing do you have in you?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: A lot. The fire’s still burning. One of the quotes that Rick Mears told me a long time ago: If you don’t have the fire, if you stop thinking about it, then it’s time for you to stop. I can’t live without it right now. Yes, it will happen one day, don’t get me wrong.

But I still want to be involved. I love this environment. It’s my confidence zone, my therapy, everything. Every time you’re (indiscernible) the race, it’s where I feel most comfortable.

Right now, whatever is next, I’m going to keep it going. And the INDYCAR season is obviously our goal. And Simon and I have a lot of work, but we know we can achieve great things.

Q. How many of you climbed the fence?

SIMON PAGENAUD: All of us.

MICHAEL SHANK: Did you climb the fence, Jim?

JIM MEYER: I did not climb the fence.

Q. Skipped it twice?

JIM MEYER: Yes twice now. And I feel OK about it.

[LAUGHTER]

Q. The rest of you all did?

JIM MEYER: One comment, by the way. Besides when we were able to come together with Helio, we had kind of a really, the same process when we thought we had a chance perhaps to get Simon.

Mike and I went and studied every race for I think seven years. And it really, really convinced us. With Oli, we used his name in vain a lot last year when he was with the Mazda team. So we knew when we could get him he was a fit.

And I can tell you, Tom doesn’t know this, but the first time he tested for us, Mike called me and said, we’ve got our guy. We’ve got our guy.

So, we love what we have. And I want to remind everybody we still expect to win an IMSA Championship and an INDYCAR Championship. We’re just not content being the little team that can’t. That’s what this is about for us.

Q. Simon, you said Helio’s Indy 500 win sort of legitimized in your eyes this team and made it a viable option for you. I’m wondering for all three of you not named Helio, just what you think of this team, and how you knew to believe in Jim and Mike and what they were building, and if you ever thought you’d be climbing fences?

OLIVER JARVIS: So from my side, I think just listening to Mike convinced me that he spoke about last year. And he spoke about — he was very honest that he felt they hadn’t achieved what he wanted to.

But I saw it from a different point of view. That’s that Penske came into the championship. Yost came into the championship. And none of them blew anyone away in their first year. It’s a tough championship, and you look at the progression of the teammate throughout that year. And it wasn’t just, you know, they stepped up to DPi. It’s a really competitive championship.

And to see that progression, I knew it’s a team on the up. I knew they had huge amounts of capabilities. You saw the way they ran the Indy program and this. It was an easy decision for myself. And when you go to the shop and see the facilities they have, it just reinforces that.

So, yeah, definitely an easy decision. But it was based on the way Mike’s open and honest, and the way his passion comes through. And I think as a driver you can really resonate with that. And as long as the guys have got the passion and the belief, then when you come together you can win stuff.

TOM BLOMQVIST: I think ultimately it came down to the passion and the commitment of the team to build this organization into a team that wants to win races. And I think having that — words are one thing, but putting people and things in place to make those goals and dreams a reality, that’s what you like to see as a driver.

You want to see — we go out there and bust our backsides off every time we get in a car. Obviously we want an organization that’s doing the same. Mike is super passionate about his racing, and the whole MSR team, we’re here to — it’s still a long way to go. The team is growing, like, their first year, last year in SportsCar, and obviously it wasn’t like they would have liked. But we started the season with a bang of a win and that’s how we’re going to continue. And we’re only going to get better.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Personally, it was more — it was definitely exactly what Oli said. The first phone call with Mike was truth and honest. And I loved the vision he had about his team.

One of the first things he said to me, he said maybe it’s bad for me but I tell my team everything. Everybody on the floor knows everything that’s going on. It’s a very different environment.

And everything he described, honestly in 15 minutes I was sold. Jim didn’t believe that — actually Jim believed I was bluffing, but I wasn’t.

And it’s just relationship, quite frankly. Just like they just said, it was the vision. And for me at this time of my career, that vision just fit perfect.

Q. Mike or Jim, you talked about the aim now being big races and championships. Where commercially for your company, where in terms of the passion you show these programs, where is Le Mans in that list?

JIM MEYER: Our sponsors are fantastic for us, by the way. AutoNation is deeply committed to auto racing. And they love this relationship here, by the way, through IMSA racing. And I can’t tell you how many texts I’ve already gotten from them already.

Of course, SiriusXM is near and dear to my heart. I was CEO of the company for many years and love it. And then our newest sponsor, Arctic Wolf.

So they all have a passion for motor sports. And they use motor sports as part of how they promote. And that fuels I think our guys.

I could tell you on the AutoNation side, Simon and Helio, they do a lot for them. That’s great for us.

MICHAEL SHANK: Le Mans for us is a little bit, for sure we want to go. And it’s also up to Honda and Acura and HPD. So they’re our corporate partner. When they’re ready to go, we’re going.

We did 2016 in the P2 car and did fairly okay. It was a good first experience. And we’ll get there.

Q. I don’t think anybody’s asked about the last lap and the chicane and how close you were to that. That should have been the first question, but curious what you saw, didn’t see and looking back at it?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Right. I saw nothing, which was absolutely dirt. And then I felt a lot of things, like changing my underwear was one of them.

[LAUGHTER]

Code Brown was another one. I was like all over the place. And thank God that car was just, kept skidding from straight and did not stop right away.

So I did anticipate, because my sport, I did mention about it was a fight for a win. So I think they were going to go for it. I did not expect a big crash like that right in front of it.

So thank God — it was a little bit of an anticipation/luck at the same time. And thank God I had a little bit of a gap between me and Ricky so that I could plan that.

But it was very scary. I don’t think any moment of the race that kind of scary scenario until that time.

Q. You’re going to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame here in Daytona coming up. This certainly doesn’t hurt. Could you just talk about that real quick?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Honor. I’ve been in the sport for so many years. And as I mentioned, you guys heard about what I love about the sport. And for me to be among such amazing people — because it’s not only drivers, it’s people that are exactly like me. They love the sport.

So for me it’s an honor. I can’t wait to come back and especially now, Daytona becoming a great place. But yes, it’s an honor being inducted in the hall of fame for sure.

Q. Tom, I wanted to ask. You said you were cooked at the end of your last stint. But it really did set up everything that happened afterward. Can you walk me through that? You had some really good battles with Ricky there, but it was intense.

TOM BLOMQVIST: It was super intense. And to be honest, throughout the race the race started pretty poorly for me. We didn’t — we got a few things wrong at the start. But I was chipping away at it. And I haven’t got that much experience in this car. I’ve had a lot of experience in the P2. It’s actually quite different.

And I just felt like the more laps I did, I was trying to figure out how to drive around the little problems we were encountering. And I just got more and more comfortable behind the wheel. And thankfully the speed was there in those crucial stints.

And, yeah, the car was working for me and I was able to manipulate it in the right way. And that just kind of made the difference. I managed to get a good run on Ricky. We seemed to be a little bit stronger than him at that point in the race. And I think ultimately it teed up the — Helio just, he only had one job and it was to not to mess it up.

So, I mean, he did a great job. He’s 60 years old and he’s super fast.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: You’re only 28. You’ll get there.

TOM BLOMQVIST: When I’m 60, I just want to be like you, mate.

No, but it was relentless race from the word go. And the team did a fantastic job, I have to say. And there’s a lot of little tools on the car to get it working for you. And having that dialogue back and forth with the engineers, with the HPD guys and stuff, to maximize our performance.

I think just working away at it throughout the race is what put us in that position that I was able to extract some good performance from the car. So, huge thanks to everyone, really.

IMSA Wire: Winning Beginning for Blomqvist with Meyer Shank

Winning Beginning for Blomqvist with Meyer Shank
The Brit Helps the No. 60 Acura to Victory at the Rolex 24 in His First DPi Race

February 4, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The minutes turn to hours, the day turns to night. Each lap becomes a blur of sound and color. Every turn of the wheel carries the weight of a team, of sponsors and manufacturers. It’s pressure stacked on pressure for hour upon hour.

Other than that, Mr. Blomqvist, how did you enjoy your first Rolex 24 At Daytona?

“I was speechless after the race,” Tom Blomqvist said Sunday after teaming with Oliver Jarvis, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud to win the famous endurance race.

“I mean, I dreamed of it,” he continued. “Did I believe? Yes, but you never know. It’s 24 hours of relentless racing. And every time I jumped in the car, at moments I felt really comfortable. At moments I was like, ‘Man, I can’t get this car to work.’”

He did get it to work, and his drive in the late hours of the race proved crucial to Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s overall win in the 60th anniversary of the race. When he handed the No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-05 to Helio Castroneves for the final time, Blomqvist was “cooked.”

“It was super intense,” he said. “… I just felt like the more laps I did, I was trying to figure out how to drive around the little problems we were encountering. And I just got more and more comfortable behind the wheel. Thankfully, the speed was there in those crucial stints.”

He’s no stranger to sports cars, but he was new to this particular sports car. A native of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Blomqvist has experience in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class. He also won as a BMW factory driver the 2018 24 Hours of Spa in 2018.

His extensive resume also includes Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, Asian Le Mans Series, FIA GT World Cup, Intercontinental GT Challenge, Formula E and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.

But this was Blomqvist’s first Rolex 24, his first race in a Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car, and it exceeded his expectations. Or perhaps he exceeded the race’s expectations.

His ability didn’t surprise team co-owners Michael Shank and Jim Meyer, who knew early that Blomqvist was the right choice to join Jarvis as the team’s full-season drivers for 2022.

“Tom doesn’t know this,” Meyer explained during the postrace press conference. “But the first time he tested for us, Mike called me and said, ‘We’ve got our guy. We’ve got our guy.’”

Shank was right. Blomqvist was ready for everything the Rolex 24 threw at him. And if certain things surprised him, he adapted to them and kept going.

“It was just a roller coaster of a race,” Blomqvist said. “Every stint here is just flat out. You’re managing so many things. You feel like you’re racing nose to tail from literally the green light. So it’s very different from what I’m used to, and honestly I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

More crucial races lie ahead, but Meyer Shank has the early jump on the DPi field when the WeatherTech Championship season resumes March 19 with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

As the celebration slowed Sunday afternoon, Blomqvist thanked team co-owners Shank and Meyer for the opportunity.

“Hopefully, I was able to repay a little bit of faith that they put in me,” Blomqvist said. “It’s been great so far. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”

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IMSA Wire: Ageless Castroneves Enjoying His Racing Renaissance

Ageless Castroneves Enjoying His Racing Renaissance
Since Charting a New Path, the Charismatic Brazilian Has
Two Rolex 24 Wins and an Indy 500 Victory

February 1, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While the accomplishments of his recent racing resurgence were listed during the press conference after the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Helio Castroneves turned to team co-owner Michael Shank and exclaimed:

“Mike! Let’s go to Le Mans! Let’s go!”

Might as well. After all, sports cars have been the crucial link in Castroneves’ late-career renaissance. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a logical next step for the guy who has won almost everything else.

“I love to race,” Castroneves said after he co-piloted the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 to the overall and Daytona Prototype international (DPi) wins in the 60th anniversary running of the Rolex 24. “This is me. It’s been my entire life. I admire (and) respect (it).

“I know it’s not easy. I understand everyone has your specialty. And that’s why, when I moved to IMSA, I believed I started getting better because you start exploring more of your race craft. Today, the big win was because of that. I knew my competitors. I knew what I needed to do, and I did it.”

Doing it wasn’t always so certain. In 2018, as Castroneves’ full-time IndyCar role with Team Penske transitioned to a part-time effort, he joined Penske’s Acura-powered IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship operation. When that program ended in 2020, Castroneves found himself a free agent. He faced a choice: fade into racing history with three Indianapolis 500 victories or fight for more.

He chose to fight.

Castroneves signed with Wayne Taylor Racing as the team’s fourth driver for the 2021 Rolex 24 (won it), signed a six-race IndyCar deal with Meyer Shank Racing and returned last May to the Indy 500 (won it a record-tying fourth time), then returned this past weekend with MSR for the 60th Rolex 24 (won it again) with teammates Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist and Simon Pagenaud.

Quite the year. Seems that climbing fences never gets old, especially when you’re 46 years old.
“I’m not running out of time, I’m just getting more experience,” Castroneves said. “And experience in this type of race is the key to being successful.”

Castroneves will return to the No. 60 Acura next month for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as the Meyer Shank team’s driver for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events.
He’ll also take a shot at a fifth Indy 500 win during a full IndyCar Series season with MSR, fully aware that sports cars were the bridge to continuity and longevity. Thankful for the opportunity, unencumbered by age, ready for more.

When Castroneves asked Shank about Le Mans, Pagenaud offered to help.

“I speak French!” Pagenaud, the native of Montmorillon, France, deadpanned.

Never say jamais. With Helio, nothing is impossible.

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IMSA Wire: Castroneves Eager to Build on Success with New Team



IMSA Wire: ‘Old Friend’ Aids No. 60 Meyer Shank DPi Run toward Front

‘Old Friend’ Aids No. 60 Meyer Shank DPi Run toward Front
Cameron, Montoya at Home Driving Same Chassis with New Team

Jan. 28, 2021
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya moved to a new home for the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and they brought along an old and trusted friend.

The 2019 series champions looked on contentedly Thursday afternoon as teammate AJ Allmendinger posted the fastest practice lap during Thursday afternoon’s practice in preparations for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona. Allmendinger powered around the Daytona International Speedway road course in 1 minute, 34.287 seconds (135.925 mph) driving the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 DPi.

Thing is, that No. 60 is the same car that Cameron and Montoya used for much of last season, when it was the No. 6 Acura Team Penske. In this case, familiarity didn’t breed contempt. It brought speed.

“AJ was quickest there, and Juan was good on his running in that last session, so we’ve been making some good progress,” Cameron said. “We were a bit off in the morning and kind of pounding the racetrack. The guys were pretty flat out in the gap in between (sessions) to make some changes. We’re still learning quite a bit about the car. We seemed to find a decent spot there.”

Montoya agreed, saying the Acura enjoys the cooler conditions presented Thursday.

“I felt we were a little lost this morning and we made some good changes,” the two-time Indy 500 and three-time Rolex 24 winner said. “And in the last practice the car seemed to find some good speed. Normally when it’s cold conditions, the car seems to like that, so we’ll see what it brings. We’ve still got to execute the race and see what it brings.”

Cameron and Montoya brought their knowledge of the Acura from three seasons in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine with Team Penske to Meyer Shank this year. Cameron will pair with Olivier Pla for all WeatherTech Championship races in the No. 60. Montoya will join them for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, with Allmendinger on board for the Rolex 24.

Having been down this road before in the Acura’s development, Cameron said he and Montoya serve as a sounding board for the team’s engineers on what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

“Really, for Juan and (me), it’s been more of trying to guide them,” Cameron said, “and letting them know if the feeling is right, the feeling is wrong and just keep them pointed in the right direction.”

Pla, who drove a prototype for Meyer Shank in 2016 when the team won the Motul Petit Le Mans, has been absorbing as much information as he can take in from the experienced Acura duo.

“Both of them have been great with me, helping me to learn the car, to understand the car,” Pla said. “They have got so much experience with this car, so I rely a lot on them, actually.”

The No. 60 Acura’s afternoon lap was edged for overall honors by Renger van der Zande during Thursday’s night practice. The two-time defending Rolex 24 overall winner pushed the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi around the circuit in 1:34.146, just 0.141 seconds better than Allmendinger’s afternoon run.

Other class leaders after the three sessions were:
· In Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Mikkel Jensen in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07, at 1:35.979;
· In Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320, at 1:42.416;
· In GT Le Mans (GTLM), Nick Tandy in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, at 1:42.586;
· In GT Daytona (GTD), Marco Mapelli in the No. 111 GRT Grasser Race Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, at 1:45.593.

A final one-hour session starts at 11:20 a.m. ET Friday. The starting grid was determined last Sunday in the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race, won by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi to earn the overall pole position in the 49-car field.

Live coverage of the Rolex 24 begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC and carries overnight on other NBC Sports platforms including NBCSN, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and the NBC Sports App. The broadcast returns to NBC at 2 p.m. Sunday for the race conclusion. Flag-to-flag IMSA Radio coverage is also available on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com.

Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available HERE.

Hardwick Sidelined from Rolex 24 Following Pilot Challenge Crash

Wright Motorsports driver Ryan Hardwick will miss the Rolex 24 with a concussion sustained Wednesday in a crash during IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice. He will be replaced in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R lineup by Trent Hindman, the 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion.

“It’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to join the team for the big race,” said Hardwick, who was hospitalized overnight for observation. “I wish I was driving with them, but sadly that won’t be possible.

“When I first learned I wouldn’t be able to drive, Trent was immediately one of the first drivers I thought of to step in. I want the team to continue and our 1st Phorm car to be on track to compete in this event. I’ve followed Trent’s career for the last few years, and I think he’ll be a good fit.”

Hindman joins a No. 16 lineup that includes Patrick Long, Jan Heylen and Klaus Bachler for the Rolex 24. Hardwick and Long finished second in the final 2020 GTD standings and, with Heylen, won the season finale, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

“First and foremost, what’s most important is that Ryan is OK,” said Hindman, 25, who will make his fifth Rolex 24 start. “Filling in for the Rolex 24 under these circumstances is never ideal, but I am grateful to John (Wright), Ryan and the Wright Motorsports team for trusting me with this opportunity. The No. 16 Porsche looks to be a strong contender for victory come Sunday, and I certainly look forward to doing everything I can to make it happen.”

Following the incident, Wright Motorsports withdrew its Pilot Challenge entry from competing in Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona.

No. 3 Corvette Drivers Itching for Return to Rolex 24 Victory Lane

By Holly Cain

With a year under their belt steering the high-profile No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R and earning the 2020 championship trophy for their mantel, Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia showed up in Daytona feeling optimistic that they – along with co-driver Nicky Catsburg – should now be considered favorites to earn Corvette’s first GTLM class Rolex 24 win in five years.

That was in 2016, a thrilling battle between the make’s two team cars. The No. 4 Corvette nipped the No. 3 Corvette by a mere 0.034 seconds, battling door-to-door throughout the twice-around-the-clock season opener. It was an amazing 1-2 finish for the Corvette C7.R and second straight win in the Rolex 24.

Garcia, 40, was driving the No. 3 Corvette that missed the win by a blink of an eye. This year he has great faith in the Corvette C8.R, the mid-engine car starting its second season of competition, to be best in class.

“We just need to focus on our program, what we do and trying to learn the car and I think we should be prepared for Saturday,’’ said Garcia, who has won three of the last four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM titles.

The Garcia/Taylor Corvette won five races in 2020 but notably finished fourth (Rolex 24), fifth (TireRack.com Grand Prix), runner-up (Motul Petit Le Mans) and fifth (Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts) in the endurance races. The team is boldly optimistic in this weekend’s second Rolex 24 try with the C8.R – hoping to put an end to BMW Team RLL’s two-year winning streak.

The No. 4 Corvette, with drivers Tandy and Alexander Sims, won the GTLM pole position with its victory in Sunday’s Motul Pole Award 100 in the car they share with Tommy Milner. The No. 3 will start second in class.

“I think we’re definitely going in with some good momentum after last year, winning five races and the championship,’’ said Taylor, who has a pair of DPi and overall wins in the Rolex 24. “Just such a strong showing for the C8.R (last year), so coming back to Daytona and having a year under our belt with this car, a lot of development and winning the sprint race here last year gives us some confidence.

“But I think this year, especially with all the new cars and new classes, it’s definitely going to change the game a bit with how much you will have to be careful and cautious through the night with some new drivers and some new cars.

“I think at the end of the day it’s the same style of racing where you’re going to have to survive until the end, but I think it’s a little bit extra this year making sure you get to the end of the race with a strong car and a fast car.”

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