Oliver Jarvis has proved himself to be among the top level of drivers in the LMP1 class with two podiums at Le Mans in the past three years. 2015 marks the Briton’s first full season in the WEC. Jarvis will be sharing then #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro this season with Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval. We caught up with him ahead of the new season.
WM: There is allot of expectation on drivers in the WEC, what are your personal goals going into the 2015 season?
OJ: Firstly its very important for me to perform at the same level as my two team mates straight away. The great thing about endurance racing is that you have team mates in the same machinery to directly compare yourself against. I’m really impressed with the progress Audi has made over the winter so as always our intention is to go out and win races and fight not only for the win at Le Mans but also the FIA World Endurance Championship title.
WM: The competition in the WEC this year is very impressive. Who do you see as your biggest rival?
OJ: It would be wrong to discount any of our competitors. Toyota are the reigning World champions and have an extremely competitive package and Porsche showed in only their first full year how strong they are. There is also Nissan who is entering this year with a fascinating concept.
WM: The seat that you will fill this season was occupied by Tom Kristensen previously. Does this add any pressure to you as you are replacing someone with legendary status?
OJ: There is always pressure when you drive for Audi so regardless of who you are replacing there will be pressure but I guess there will be even more focus on me to deliver as I’m replacing the greatest sportscar driver in the world so it won’t be an easy job but I’m looking forward to it.
WM: The coming years are sure to bring allot of success. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
OJ: You can never guarantee success but I will be working very hard personally and with my team to ensure that we’re successful. For me there are a few highlights that really stand out and all of them had an important impact on my career. The first was winning the McLaren Autosport Award in 2005 which was a huge boost to my career not only in exposure but also opening doors to help me progress up the motorsport ladder. Then there has been the wins in Macau in 2007, which helped me to secure a seat with Audi in the DTM, and my first win (of many I hope) in the LMP1 at the Sebring 12 hour race in 2013.
WM: In the past Audi have been the team to beat. After being beaten for the first time in the WEC last year, what is that atmosphere like within the team?
OJ: As a team we don’t like being beaten but it only motivates us to work harder in order to come back even stronger! One of the real strengths of the Audi team is the fantastic atmosphere and working relationship we all have.
WM: There is allot of talk surrounding what is more important, a win at Le Mans or the WEC title. Would you rather win at Le Mans, or be crowned champion at the end of the season?
OJ: That’s a tough question!! It’s like asking which of your two children you love the most. For me a win at Le Mans has always been a dream of mine so it has a huge importance but there is something very special about being able to say you are a World Champion. So I really have to say i rate them equally.
WM: The WEC has undoubtedly grown in popularity over the last couple of seasons. What do you think is drawing such prestigious manufactures and talented drivers to the series over single seater categories such as Formula One at the moment?
OJ: I think for the manufacturers its the perfect platform to develop and showcase road relevant technology. This is very important to Audi and over the years there has been numerous innovations and technologies that have been tried and tested in Le Mans that have then gone on to production in Audi’s road cars. For drivers I think for the first time the younger generation our seeing how competitive the championship is and are realising that its a fantastic career path outside of the single seater/F1 route. If you take F1 at the moment how many drivers are actually being paid to be there? Whereas with the current manufacturer involvement and also within the top private teams there is the possibility to do what we love and earn a living.
WM: With the rumors that Audi would be interested in a Formula One switch in the future, if the opportunity arose would you like a drive with Audi in F1?
OJ: There have been these rumors for many years. Audi remains totally committed to the WEC and DTM with our factory programmes, the new TT Cup, plus the R8 LMS for “customer” teams.
WM: Audi has a very long history in motorsport. If you could choose one car from Audi’s racing past and one circuit to test it on, what would you drive and where would you go?
OJ: I would love to test an Audi quattro rally car on a rally course. That would be a dream come true! They are iconic cars and even today they still look incredible.
Image Sources: Audi R18 – Walter Schruff, Audi A4 DTM – Speedsport Magazine, Audi Quattro – James Clarke