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The attributes that make Blomqvist a powerful match for IndyCar

Meyer Shank Racing isn’t one of the current series heavyweights, but with his experience with the team and hybrid racing in GTP, and the expertise of a former rival-turned-team-mate, the Briton is eager to get going The path to the IndyCar Series for Blomqvist is not so much about the road less travelled, but rather

The attributes that make Blomqvist a powerful match for IndyCar

Meyer Shank Racing is not one of many present sequence heavyweights, however along with his expertise with the crew and hybrid racing in GTP, and the experience of a former rival-turned-team-mate, the Briton is raring to get going

The trail to the IndyCar Sequence for Blomqvist just isn’t a lot in regards to the highway much less travelled, however relatively one paved in perseverance: Born in Britain, raised in New Zealand, he’s constructed up a various background that includes a promising junior method profession that veered into DTM and Components E, amongst others, earlier than turning into a pressure within the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

Following an introductory three races in North America’s premier open-wheel championship final yr, he now finds himself again in single-seaters and bracing for a full-time rookie marketing campaign, driving the Honda-powered No. 66 entry for Meyer Shank Racing.

“That is the primary time shortly the place I’ve bought this anxious power about getting began as a result of it’s so new,” enthuses the 30-year-old. “Clearly, I’ve been doing one thing so acquainted for the previous eight, 9 years, and leaping throughout to IndyCar is so completely different. However I’m actually excited to get going. It’s a totally new problem. Though it’s, I’d say, a carry-on, a pure development from my junior profession I sort of sidestepped since 2015.”

Blomqvist’s yr has already began fairly nicely, with a detailed second within the Daytona 24 Hours in Motion Specific Racing’s Cadillac, following wins on the identical occasion with MSR Acuras in 2022 and 2023. However his single-seater return is now the main focus.

“I’m actually excited to only get rolling once more, and it’ll be good to get out in an IndyCar,” provides the son of 1984 World Rally champion Stig. “I haven’t pushed since principally the race in Laguna Seca [in September]. So, thank goodness I did get a few of that mileage below my belt the again finish of final season, which has mentally ready me for a few of the challenges that will lie forward. I’m simply eager to get out on observe on the finish of the month, which goes to be good, going to be enjoyable.

“There’s going to be rather a lot occurring behind the scenes – it positively opened my eyes on the again finish of final yr getting these occasions below my belt and seeing the areas that I personally have to work on. Now I’ve bought a complete season to work at it, so I’m eager to get issues going.”

Blomqvist made his IndyCar debut last season deputising for Pagenaud, and will take over the seat full-time in 2024

Blomqvist made his IndyCar debut final season deputising for Pagenaud, and can take over the seat full-time in 2024

Photograph by: IndyCar Sequence

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After Blomqvist examined an IndyCar for MSR in October of 2022, there was already the notion that it was a matter of when not if he can be a part of the championship. That idea accelerated after Simon Pagenaud’s vicious follow crash on the Mid-Ohio Sports activities Automobile Course final July, by which the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner somersaulted a number of occasions earlier than settling in a plume of mud within the gravel lure.

The Frenchman was pressured out for the rest of the season, which prompted MSR to place Blomqvist in for chosen rounds. The debut on the streets of Toronto, thought to be one of many hardest circuits on the schedule as a result of its unforgiving and tight 11-turn, 1.786-mile format, supplied the most effective begin to date in twentieth.

The most effective end was a twenty fourth at Portland Worldwide Raceway. However the most effective efficiency was undoubtedly within the season finale at Laguna Seca, the place Blomqvist managed to dart by means of the sector in an incident-filled race and break into the highest 10, working as excessive as sixth, earlier than falling into the clutches of chaos after 61 of 95 laps.

“Tom can deal with going quick and managing all of the controls that we’ve got, and that’s going to be a brand new aspect to IndyCar. Tom has that mind capability” Michael Shank

“It helps tremendously, extra so in simply making ready for the best way the occasion runs,” says Blomqvist of his 2023 expertise. “Whether or not that be the construction of the follow session, the qualifying session, or the little intricacies that folks from the skin possibly don’t perceive that aids a driver in getting essentially the most out of a weekend.

“As a result of while you’re so new to that, your mind is consistently below stress while you’re doing them for the primary time. You are feeling such as you’re at 100mph in each space. So, while you’ve completed that, you understand and your physique is ready for it, your thoughts is ready for it. It’s a lot simpler.”

It received’t be a traditional yr by any stretch, both: Blomqvist may even must adapt to the incoming hybrid engine, which is anticipated to be on the grid someday after the 108th working of the Indy 500 on 26 Might.

Earlier this low season, MSR co-owner Mike Shank shared that IndyCar’s transfer to a hybrid period is likely one of the motivations for bringing over Blomqvist, who adjusted accordingly in IMSA’s adaptation of hybrid energy in 2023 with LMDh machines within the GTP class. Though Shank’s IMSA program has since ceased operations following the conclusion of final yr regardless of ending third within the championship with three wins – together with its controversial Daytona 24 Hours success – there’s perception that Blomqvist’s expertise ought to add worth regardless of an absence of time in IndyCar.

Experience with hybrid Acura in IMSA convinced Shank that Blomqvist had capacity to shine in IndyCar

Expertise with hybrid Acura in IMSA satisfied Shank that Blomqvist had capability to shine in IndyCar

Photograph by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“For my part, there are a lot of, many quick racing drivers on the market and a few of these guys require ten-tenths of their mind energy simply to place in that quick lap,” says Shank. “The actually nice drivers have one other gear or one other step that they will handle extra inputs. GTP is a good instance of that. Tom can deal with going quick and managing all of the controls that we’ve got, and that’s going to be a brand new aspect to IndyCar. Tom has that mind capability.

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“Many drivers, while you ask them to start out managing the chassis with all of the controls we’ve got, it will get all tousled. Tom has the capability to handle extra techniques and that’s another excuse I selected him, as a result of I feel we’ll have a bit extra of that.”

And in some ways, maintaining with the instruments inside an IndyCar is simpler than GTP. Blomqvist believes his capability to do that stems from that numerous background: “Even leaping within the GTP, it was simple for me as a result of I used to be used to a way more complicated system by way of Components E, and having expertise there ready me for what to anticipate, the way to get essentially the most out of a few of the techniques.

“To be trustworthy, the IndyCar system is much more simple in a manner than that. I’m not too anxious about it. I feel we have to determine precisely the way it’s going for use.

“The largest factor is the way you cost it up and the way that’s carried out by way of not affecting the drivability of the automotive, so by way of braking; there’s essentially the most environment friendly methods of producing lap time from a race automotive the place it’s important to cost and discharge, and it’s the way you as a driver can adapt to that. Not solely adapt by way of driving, however use it in an virtually driver-friendly manner, and work along with your engineering crew to make it as environment friendly as potential to deploy and to not have an effect on the driving in a detrimental manner.”

Though competing in IndyCar full-time shall be a brand new expertise for Blomqvist, there shall be a big quantity of familiarity. With MSR’s IMSA program closing its doorways – for now, a minimum of – the personnel from that strikes over to the IndyCar facet of the operation, with Blomqvist retaining his primary mechanic.

The addition of Felix Rosenqvist, who joins MSR after spells at Chip Ganassi Racing (2019-20) and Arrow McLaren (2021-23), as a team-mate additionally supplies familiarity. The 2 raced one another for the 2009 Components Renault title in Sweden, which Rosenqvist claimed whereas Blomqvist completed third.

Additionally they battled for the Components 3 European Championship in 2014, the place Blomqvist completed runner-up to Esteban Ocon and straight forward of present reigning three-time Components 1 champion Max Verstappen. Rosenqvist ended up eighth within the standings, earlier than successful it in 2015.

Blomqvist and Rosenqvist duelled on their way up the single-seater ladder in F3, and now will be reunited at Meyer-Shank in IndyCar

Blomqvist and Rosenqvist duelled on their manner up the single-seater ladder in F3, and now shall be reunited at Meyer-Shank in IndyCar

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

“As one of many smaller groups, I feel we in all probability have many benefits,” gives Rosenqvist. “Now we have clearly Honda, who’re deeply concerned in hybrid tech in F1. Now we have Meyer Shank Racing, who competed very competitively in IMSA with a hybrid. Now we have Tom, who’s been in Components E, and might be the strongest driver in latest occasions in IMSA with a hybrid.

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“After which you have got myself, who drove in Components E for 2 and a half years. I feel all of us have some expertise, and that makes an enormous distinction. For some individuals working in IndyCar, that is all brand-new stuff, and for us it’s not. I feel should you have a look at the direct competitors, we positively have a bonus.”

4-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves may even be somebody to study from. The 48-year-old Brazilian has taken a step again from racing full-time and leaned into an possession position inside MSR, however will nonetheless contest a one-off in ‘The Best Spectacle in Racing’ at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Might traditional.

“If I can get to a spot – which I strongly consider I can in any other case I wouldn’t be right here – the place I’m glad with my very own performances and getting the outcomes for the crew, that’s real looking” Tom Blomqvist

“I’m very lucky that Felix is, let’s say not a veteran within the sequence, however he’s now been right here 5 years, so he’s bought loads of information and he’s been by means of a few of the issues that I’ve,” says Blomqvist. “We sort of grew up collectively racing in opposition to each other, and I feel his entire studying course of when he got here into the sequence, he got here on this fashionable period so I can study rather a lot from him, so I’m excited for that.

“Helio is a one-of-a-kind. I’ve recognized him for some time now. We’ve been team-mates within the automotive, within the sportscar stuff for the previous couple of years, so I understand how he works, and I understand how he operates. I feel it’s extra about seeing how he will get by means of that entire month of Might and the way he constructions his follow classes, what he focuses on in a session to the place he’s driving the course of the automotive and all these little issues. I’ve bought a superb bunch of men there to lean on within the varied occasions we go to. I have to maximise that.”

Ultimately, the principle objectives Blomqvist goals to realize aren’t primarily based as a lot on outcomes as maximizing his efficiency on a case-by-case foundation whereas he develops: “The largest factor is extra a satisfaction stage with my very own efficiency. I’m used to all the pieces I’ve completed in years passed by; I’m disillusioned if I’m not successful and on the rostrum, or combating for victories, and I’m below no phantasm that it’s not what I’m going to expect once I first roll out.

“But when I can get to a spot – which I strongly consider I can in any other case I wouldn’t be right here – the place I’m glad with my very own performances and getting the outcomes for the crew, that’s real looking. Perhaps a top-15 in St Pete [the season opener in March]. I feel that’s an inexpensive goal for me to go for. However the purpose is to be right here long run, and which means being aggressive, race in, race out.”

Blomqvist has set relatively modest goals for his first season in IndyCar as he seeks to learn from those around him

Blomqvist has set comparatively modest objectives for his first season in IndyCar as he seeks to study from these round him

Photograph by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

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