Tom Blomqvist wants more following an NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie test evaluation Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway.
Driving the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda normally occupied by Simon Pagenaud, Blomqvist, the defending DPi class champion in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, threw down 89 laps around the historic playground.
The British-born talent, who also shares New Zealand and Swedish nationality, was part of a test that included Agustin Canapino (Juncos Hollinger Racing), Jake Dennis (Andretti Autosport), Juri Vips (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and Marcus Armstrong (Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports). For his part, Blomqvist was able to lean on Pagenaud’s engineer, Garrett Mothersead.
“The acceleration feels a bit better,” said Blomqvist, 28. “It just feels a bit more raw. You feel more connected to the track. Obviously, you don't have any of this TC (traction control) stuff. The drivability is very nice. You can play around a lot more with the gear stuff to get it well suited to the track.
“For me, the biggest difference is the braking. The braking is very good on the car; you can brake very late, very deep, very hard. The stability on the brakes is very good compared to the sports car.”
The team had to work through some small issues at the start of the day, with Blomqvist also needing time to adjust and learn how to maximize the outing.
“It took awhile for me to get like the maximum brake pressure needed,” Blomqvist said. “You have to really stamp on the brakes, and the DPI's got very good brakes. So, it's nice you don't have to brake so hard, but yeah, Indy does got a lot of braking performance. Just maximizing that really was the thing that probably took the longest and then just getting a good feeling for the car, when it's starting to slide and when it snaps and stuff. It's all those little, small things.”
Although he drove an open-wheel car during the 2020-21 Formula E season with NIO 333, driving an INDYCAR SERIES car helped tug on the heartstrings of his junior formula career. He finished runner-up to current Alpine Formula One driver Esteban Ocon in the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship, edging new two-time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen in the standings that season.
“That was my goal growing up as a kid was to try and reach F1,” Blomqvist said. “My last proper season in a single-seater was actually 2014. I had a good year in F3. The two guys that I was fighting with are both in F1. But yeah, for me, open wheels, that was my roots. The car's downforce and speed, that's what I feel in the cars that I get in, I feel like I'm reaching my best potential.
“The DPi was obviously there, as well. It's got good downforce, good boarding speeds. GTs and stuff like that, that was never really for me. I never really loved it. I never felt at home. I was kind of forced down that track, but I managed to get myself out of that sort of thing. It's just something that I feel more at home and then look up to. Obviously, INDYCAR, as well, is progressing on where I sort of ended my junior career.”
Looking into 2023, Blomqvist’s only focus is trying to defend his championship in IMSA with MSR’s hybrid LMDh Acura. He is also competing in LMP2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship with United Autosports. However, there is likely to be a conversation at some point about 2024 and beyond with team co-owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer for more opportunities to get involved in North America’s premier open-wheel championship.
“I don't think, realistically, there's not going to be much going on (in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES) for me in next year, that's for sure,” Blomqvist said. “It's obviously a conversation I need to have with Mike and Jim. It's just a question of do I want this enough and do they want to give me the shot? Looking through the data and then giving me another opportunity probably later down the road, and really see if this is something that both parties want to pursue.
“I'd love to give it a shot. Ultimately, it's not just down to me, right? But if the opportunity arose, I'm definitely ready to grasp it with two hands and give a good, old shot.”