Tom Blomqvist endured two tough races in Sebring this past weekend as mechanical issues hampered Tom's chances of recording podium finishes in both the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the Sebring 12 Hours.
IMSA ROUND TWO | SEBRING 12 HOURS | MARCH 15 - 18
Resuming his 2023 IMSA campaign in Sebring this past weekend, Tom and his Meyer Shank Racing team arrived at Sebring International Raceway for the second race weekend of the season. With Tom lining up alongside Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves in the #60 ARX-06 LMDh for the twelve-hour race.
The week didn't get off to the smoothest of starts as the team experienced some electrical gremlins during the first practice session that left the No. 60 MSR Acura LMDh only able to clock in seven laps. Working hard before the second session of the day, MSR diagnosed the issue and bounced back in practice 2 as they topped the time sheets with Tom recording the fastest time for the team.
Having recorded pole position at Daytona in January, Tom was once again selected by MSR for qualifying duties and was running second with an early lap of 1:46.603-seconds in the 20-minute qualifying session. Tom was then called into the pit lane midway through for a tire change.
Dropping to fifth during his stop, Blomqvist returned for a late run with under 10-minutes on the clock. However, a competitor slammed a barrier with four-minutes, 30-seconds remaining, effectively ending the session before Tom could record another lap time.
During the twelve-hour race, Tom and MSR ran in the podium places for 10 hours and 15 minutes - leading the race five times, with Tom, Castroneves and Braun all pacing the field at different times.
However, with under two hours of the race remaining, Tom was running fourth in the No. 60 ARX-06, when he lost his left-rear wheel approaching Turn 16 due to a broken wheel nut. Tom slowed to a stop, bringing out a caution. The MSR Acura was taken to the paddock to repair the damage and Tom returned to the race with 41 minutes remaining, finishing 6th in GTP.
"It was a challenging race for us,” Blomqvist said. "We had some gremlins to manage, a bit like Daytona. Unfortunately, this time it was a little more costly. I thought we were looking good for a podium there until the wheel fell off. That curtailed our race massively which is a huge shame and I’m pretty confident that we would have been able to achieve that. That’s racing. These things happen. We’ll learn from it and fix it so it doesn’t happen again."
Next up for Tom and his Meyer Shank Racing team in WeatherTech Championship competition will be the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15.
WEC ROUND ONE | 1000M SEBRING | MARCH 15 - 17
Contesting his first race with United Autosports, Tom joined Olly Jarvis and Josh Pierson in the #23 ORECA 07 for the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Teammate Olly Jarvis was on qualifying duties and delivered the perfect start to the season for the team as he recorded pole position at Sebring International Raceway.
Jarvis then started the 1000 race on Friday and dominated the opening stages of the race in the LMP2 category. Jarvis then handed driving duties over to Josh Pierson. American Pierson then continued to extend the lead for the United Autosports #23 ORECA 07 over a triple stint.
As Tom kitted up and prepared for his first-ever stint with the team, the car suddenly came to a halt from the lead of the race and stopped out on track. Diagnosing the problem, it was found that the car had experienced an electrical failure which was caused by a broken in-car TV camera fixture that was not installed by the United Autosports team – a heartbreaking end for the #23 crew.
“I’m gutted for the team – the whole #23 crew have done an absolutely fantastic job. We were leading comfortably, we had a great strategy. Josh did an amazing job extending our lead – he was just about to finish his triple and I was about to get in. To have it go like that is just … it’s heartbreaking. It really is painful. I feel so sorry for everyone - for Josh and Olly, for the whole crew - after putting in such a fantastic job. We’ve been here nearly 10 days now and for it to end like that is very hard to take.”
Tom's next stop with United Autosports in the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar takes him and the team to the 6 Hours of Portimão on Sunday 16th April 2023.