Jarvis, retooled MSR Acura seek Rolex redemption

Richard Dole/Motorsport Images

Jarvis, retooled MSR Acura seek Rolex redemption

IMSA

Jarvis, retooled MSR Acura seek Rolex redemption

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Meyer Shank Racing’s return to prototype racing in 2021 came after a four-year absence from IMSA’s top WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class, and as the Ohio-based team learned, its DPi rivals weren’t ready to make life easy on the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 program.

MSR owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer watched as Acura stablemate Wayne Taylor Racing took the Rolex 24 At Daytona on its debut with the ARX-05, and the trend continued as JDC Miller Motorsports won Sebring with its Cadillac DPi-V.R, Chip Ganassi Racing got its first win in Detroit, Mazda Motorsports took Watkins Glen, and eventual DPi champions Action Express Racing added its name to the win column at the second race at The Glen.

Left as the last full-time DPi team to break through into victory lane, a frustrated MSR went into the offseason with designs on overhauling its season-long driver line-up, then spent countless hours dissecting all the areas where it needed to improve and returns to the Rolex 24 with one goal in mind.

“There’s definitely pressure on myself and the whole team to win,” new MSR lead driver Oliver Jarvis told RACER. “But one thing that really attracted me is Mike is so passionate, and he wants to win so badly. Mike’s been very honest about the fact that the results weren’t what he wants. But what I love is he’s open about it, and also open about his expectations. Winning is really all that matters.”

Jarvis, who’s joined by fellow MSR newcomer Tom Blomqvist at every round and has the team’s IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud for the enduros, comes to the factory Acura program after years of helping the former Mazda effort to become regular winners in DPi.

Jarvis (right) and teammate Tom Blomqvist lend a wealth of experience to the MSR squad this year. Motorsport Images

While at Mazda, the Briton experienced fallow periods where — even when the vaunted Joest Racing team was hired to turn Mazda’s RT24-P — lofty expectations weren’t met with instant results. It’s here where the sports car racing veteran knows that a breakthrough DPi win for MSR early in the season could do wonders for its championship aspirations.

“You have to remember that the team has come into the top class from running Acura NSX GTD cars and had not run prototypes for several years,” Jarvis continued. “I went through that with Joest. Everybody thought Joest was gonna come in and put all of their Le Mans experience to work right away and Mazda would become immediate winners, but Joest hadn’t been doing prototypes for a while and as such, it took time for them to get to where they wanted to be.

“So I know from the testing we’ve done so far and the pace our Acura has shown, progress has been made. It’s encouraging for me and I know Mike is prepared to do whatever it takes to go win. So there is definitely pressure, but I think we’ve got everything we need, and like the Mazda’s story, once we get that first win, others will follow. The Acura is a phenomenal car to drive, and there’s no reason why we can’t go on and win more races and challenge for the championship.”

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