MEDIABALAP.com – United Autosports USA driver Oliver Jarvis on why racing in Japan is so special….
Several drivers on the packed WEC 6 Hours of Fuji grid have fond memories from racing in Japan but only a handful can say that they lived and breathed the country.
Oliver Jarvis is one of those drivers.
He raced exclusively in Japan in 2007 and 2014, scoring many notable successes that included three victories in the 2007 Japanese F3 series (one of which was at Fuji Speedway) and then several top results in the ultra-competitive Japanese Super GT championship.
These were happy times in Jarvis’ versatile 18-year career as a professional racing driver. Today, he holds them with such high regard that he wishes he could have stayed racing in Japan for many more seasons.
“I’ve got really fond memories of Japan and in fact, I wish I’d managed to stay out there longer,” he says.
“I got the opportunity with Audi to join DTM (in 2008), so I cut my stay short, although I had options to stay and I wish I’d been able to do three or four years and then come back, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join Audi at that time.”
That was when his relationship with Audi offered up the chance to start a four year stint in the DTM. But in 2014 Jarvis went back to the land of the rising sun for a second stint, this time with a full season of Super GT where he competed with the Lexus Team SARD operation.
But despite some strong results Jarvis’ time in Japan was again cut short when Audi called again, this time for a seat in the legendary Audi R18 LMP1-H.
“I went to speak with Dieter Gass at the time and he basically offered me the full time seat in WEC (for 2015), which meant I couldn’t do Super GT,” Jarvis recalls.
“So, I’ve done two years in Japan, but quite separated, and both times cut a little bit shorter, but I would really have liked to do more as it is such an amazing country.”
The United Autosports USA driver, who shares the No.23 Oreca-Gibson LMP2 car with Alex Lynn and Joshua Pierson, will return to the country for the first time in almost three years.
One of the main attractions he says are the fans, which he describes as “the most dedicated, and I say this in a nice way, the craziest fans I’ve ever come across.
“They would be at the track from the start the morning to the end of the day, and they bring you little gifts, “ he remembers.
“Certainly, they create an incredible atmosphere and it is all very, very unique and fun.”
Jarvis also acknowledges the importance of WEC returning to Fuji Speedway after missing two events as a legacy of the global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent disruption.
He believes that “returning to Japan is extremely important” because “there are a lot of manufacturers in Japan. Of course, Toyota, who have invested a lot and been in the WEC for a long time and put some much into this series.
“Also, a lot of drivers come over to Europe from Japan, so I think the WEC and sportscar racing is seen as a viable route for them and a very good career option.
“Japan has such a great history of motorsport, but also they have a hugely enthusiastic following when it comes to this type of racing.
“I think it’s important for both and it works both ways and certainly a country that all the drivers look forward to going to.”
Jarvis and Pierson currently sit second in the LMP2 standings and are 19-points off current leaders Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Will Stevens with 65 points to play at Fuji and Bahrain.