One of the UK’s leading sportscar racing drivers, Oliver Jarvis’ CV includes an overall win at the Sebring 12 Hours and a class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
He currently drives for Mazda Team Joest in North America’s International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Sports Car Championship. So we caught up with him to talk about his racing life across the Atlantic and his home life back here in the UK.
Mazda has entered IMSA to win.
The endurance racing series is ultra competitive. Last year Mazda Motorsports partnered with Joest Racing, who I have raced with previously. The objective is to get onto the top step of the podium this year — and fight for the championship the next.
We’re making rapid progress.
In the new RT24-P, we achieved the fastest lap at Sebring, and were one of the quickest at Long Beach. This car is only 2 litres, but the four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine is so perfectly tuned it produces an astonishing 600ps.
You have to gel with a racing team.
Aside from their world-class track record, what I like about Joest Racing is that they are such a great bunch of people. They are so motivated and that makes a racing driver more comfortable.
Technology makes a racing driver’s job more difficult.
The list of functions on my steering wheel is almost limitless. We have five or six sub-menus, and the engineers have placed code for all sorts of eventualities — ready for me to change a setting if required. You need plenty of mental capacity to do this in a pack travelling at nearly 200mph.
American racetracks leave you battered and bruised.
They’re nothing like the sanitised circuits around Europe, or Formula One tracks. The surfaces are often bumpy, which makes it demanding to drive both physically and mentally, as you have to manage the extraordinary power of the engine and feel when the car will — and won’t — grip. The cars are built to take us driving them flat-out for 24 hours, so we’re always pushing them hard.
The fans are so passionate.
Many spend the weekend at the circuit, with the awnings out on their RVs, the barbecues going and cold beers on ice. I’m often asked what it’s like to be an Englishman abroad, but in motorsport there is such an international community, it feels natural to be in America.
Our family car is a Mazda CX-5. My wife and I love the high seating position, the big boot, the cool interior and all the connectivity. Best of all — in my daughter’s view, at least — it’s Soul Red, the same colour as my RT24-P.
My triathlon kit fits a treat.
I can drop the back seats and load it with a road bike and kit bags, and still have plenty of room to spare. When I do events with friends, we’ll put a bike rack on the roof and sling the bags in the boot.
Mistakes creep in when drivers aren’t fit.
Physical training is part of my routine, at the gym and in the triathlon scene. Equally, seat-time in racing cars keeps you strong and fit.
Oliver Jarvis interview courtesy of ZoomZoom Magazine.