Mirror Image Season Awaits Blomqvist

Come the 2024 Rolex 24

Speaking of new challenges, there’s plenty on Blomqvist’s sports car plate given that 2024 will see him driving a different GTP car for a different team with different teammates in the WeatherTech Championship. 

As well as a testament to the demand for Blomqvist’s talent these days, his schedule speaks volumes for two highly competitive manufacturers’ sporting sensibilities.

“Thanks to Honda for giving me their blessing to compete in IMSA with Cadillac,” he says. “Likewise to Cadillac, given who I’ll be racing with in Indy cars. It’s a couple of great opportunities that wouldn’t have happened without their support.”

Blomqvist is no stranger to single seaters. At the tender age of 16 he became the youngest Formula Renault UK champion and went on to race in various Formula 3 series, finishing runner-up in the 2014 European F3 Championship to current Formula One driver Esteban Ocon. Still, it’s fair to say the 30-year-old son of rallying legend Stig Blomqvist had carved out a successful career in touring and sports cars over the past eight years, from the DTM and Blancpain GT Series to the FIA World Endurance Championship in which he finished second overall in the 2021 Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) standings; not to mention capturing the WeatherTech Championship’s final Daytona Prototype international (DPi) title with Oliver Jarvis in the No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-05.

But when opportunity knocked at the tip-top of North America’s open-wheel food chain, Blomqvist decided to make a mid-career course change. 

“Unfortunately, my chance to race Indy cars came about as a result of Simon’s accident,” he says, referencing Pagenaud’s scary crash at Mid-Ohio in July that sidelined him for the remainder of 2023 with lingering concussion-like symptoms. “Nobody wants to get an opportunity that way, but that’s the nature of the sport. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy some success in sports cars, IMSA in particular, and that opened the door to Indy cars when the situation arose.

“I don’t know that I would say Indy cars was a goal of mine, but I was certainly excited to have the opportunity to race that type of car against that level of competition. I’m really looking forward to the new challenges.”

Adjusting Well to New Sports Car Role

In early December, Blomqvist had his first real exposure to his new surroundings when he participated in the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway.

Although one might assume a steep learning curve accompanied the switch from the Acura’s 2.6-liter turbocharged V-6 to the normally aspirated Cadillac 5.5-liter V-8, Blomqvist is taking it all in stride.

“There’s not that much difference between the Acura and the Cadillac,” he observes. “The rules dictate that the cars be in a pretty tight performance box, so I can’t say I’m surprised. Yes, a few things to get accustomed to but no major surprises. The Action Express team is super professional, they won the GTP championship last year, so that’s been an easy transition, too.”

Blomqvist also finds himself transitioning to a new role with his new team. Whereas in the past he was one of the two driving lynchpins for MSR’s season-long effort, this year his brief is to do whatever it takes in endurance events to support Action Express and full-time pilots Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken in their efforts to win back-to-back GTP championships for the No. 31 Cadillac.

For example, should the championship be on the line at Motul Petit Le Mans – which it usually is at the season finale – Blomqvist might need to settle for some sure points with his team and co-drivers foremost in mind rather than trying a risky move in the hopes of adding another win to his resume.

“Well, we haven’t even done the first practice at the Rolex yet, so there’s lots that will happen between now and Petit Le Mans,” he laughs. “But certainly, I know and am comfortable with my role in the team. It’s to do the best job I can to support Pipo and Jack rather than letting my ego get in the way.”

That said, Blomqvist is also well aware some personal milestones are quite achievable in 2024. He’s still looking to mount the top step of the podium at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring where, of course, Action Express is the defending champion. But before he tackles Sebring, there’s the matter of going for a third consecutive overall win in the Rolex 24.

“Winning the Rolex 24 Hours once is special. Three straight wins would be fantastic,” he says. “It’s been done before by Helio (Castroneves) so to put my name alongside his would be an achievement.”

IMSA Wire Service