Blomqvist reveals key to MSR Acura’s Petit Le Mans win

Tom Blomqvist says that fuel saving in the penultimate stint of Petit Le Mans is what enabled the Meyer Shank Racing team clinch race victory and IMSA’s 2022 Prototype championship at Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist reveals key to MSR Acura’s Petit Le Mans win
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When the two Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs clashed and crashed at Turn 1 with 52mins to go, bringing out the full-course caution, the race came down to a straight duel between the two championship-contending Acura ARX-05s of Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing. From around one-third distance, the WTR car of Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley had appeared to have an edge in pace over the Blomqvist/Oliver Jarvis/Helio Castroneves-piloted MSR car. Until the caution bunched the field together, Albuquerque seemed able to keep his lead over Blomqvist to between 13 and 17 seconds.

However, Blomqvist had been saving fuel, ensuring the #60 car’s final pitstop under caution was shorter than that of the #10 car, so that he retook the lead he’d first earned at the start of the 10 hour race having taken his third pole position of the year.

From that final restart, Blomqvist got his advantage out to four seconds, then saw it reduce to a couple of tenths while lapping GT traffic. However, in trying to keep up with Blomqvist through these backmarkers, Albuquerque struck the Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and damaged its rear suspension, forcing the Acura to creep to the pits.

Later, the Mercedes too went off at Turn 1, bringing out the final caution under which Blomqvist was able to coast to the finish line ahead of the two Action Express Racing Cadillacs.

“I’ve never dug so deep in my life,” said Blomqvist. “I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend…

“I can't thank the entire team enough for the hard work they have put in all year. This championship definitely did not come easy, but all the guys and girls never gave up and we brought it home today. The car was really good, I managed to get a gap quite early.

“I was starting to get a bit brave in traffic at the end there, I had to be. Obviously, we know Filipe is very aggressive in traffic and I had to do the same. I think some things didn't go our way this season but ultimately, I think this one was meant to be. 

“I haven’t felt this feeling in a car in a long, long time, when there is something to chase and you really feel on top of the car. I felt like I was able to go that little extra mile. I wasn’t giving up today, there was no way this was going down without a fight…

“I had a big fuel number to hit. We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time, and obviously we had less fuel to fill up. I was able to jump him, and then it was just going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line.”

“What a race!” said his full-season partner Jarvis. “It looked like we were out of it with about 1hr20min2 to go. 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. They had a fantastic year, so full credit to them, but for Meyer Shank to come away with a championship is something really special.”

Said team co-owner Michael Shank: “I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of this entire team… We had such a trying season, lots of ups and downs, but when we needed it most, the guys made it happen.

“To win this championship for Acura and HPD is everything that we have worked towards since I've been in IMSA. Today, the drivers, the team, everyone executed perfectly - we kept calm, had a great strategy going and gave it our all until the very end and all of that work showed today."

Castroneves, who also won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with the team and races full-time for the MSR IndyCar team, said: "I'm so glad to be a part of this team and drive with Tom and Olly. Starting off the year by winning at Daytona was amazing. Now to finish out the season with another win and the championship is a great feeling. I came into the race weekend with the mentality that I’m going to drive like I am a part of this championship, so to be able to add to what these guys have already done is a really good feeling.”

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