Le Mans switch could provide dividends for Audi's Oliver Jarvis

David Hobbs

"Just tell him to drive slowly and be nice and gentle, it's not about the winning. I hope he has a fine second."

Allan McNish was in fine form when talking about his Audi team-mate and fellow Brit, Oliver Jarvis, but it wouldn't be a surprise if there was a hint of truth in what he was saying as both prepared for this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

After all, Audi bosses aren't afraid to let their cars fight each other even when the opposition has fallen by the wayside; McNish's tight victory at Silverstone ahead of the sister car was testament to that while Jarvis' victory in the Sebring 12 Hours in March with Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer showed he had what it takes to drive alongside two double Le Mans winners.

"Yes, that win at Sebring did piss me off. It was a shocking display. We didn't speak for ages after that," joked McNish, who finished second in the US race.

More seriously, McNish believes the 29-year-old is in a better place since joining the sportscar team and that it's definitely paying off.

"Olly was in the DTM which I think was not the correct category for him. His driving style and his mentality - he's a thinking driver - is much better suited to sportscars.

"I think Sebring gave him a lot of confidence. He first won at Daytona [24 Hours] in a GT car but to go and win Sebring was a big pointer for him. It took a lot of pressure off him because now he's got a big race win under his belt, so this season to some extent is already settled and done and anything else could be seen as a bonus in a wee way."

"I'm sure he's not going into Le Mans with that thought process though!"

And true enough, Jarvis was delighted with his two maiden wins across the pond as well as third place at Spa this year but understandably wants more.

"To win at Sebring in the LMP car was a real confidence boost because I was driving alongside Benoit and Marcel.

"I fitted straight into the team and it was great that we could go there and beat the likes of Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish - and they were also in the new car - so it was a very sweet victory, I have to say.

But when talking about Le Mans - the big one – where he finished third on his debut in 2012, Jarvis' aim is clear.

"Every driver wants a Le Mans victory on their CV and I'm no different. We'll be pushing as hard as necessary and even if we have to take risks we will do so. It's the victory we're after.. in three or four years nobody remembers who finishes second."

Jarvis is certain he has found his place in motorsport and cannot see himself anywhere else.

"I love it," he said enthusiastically. "For me, it's where I want to be.

The sportscar is such an incredible car to drive, it's so quick and being part of Audi – such a professional outfit – if I stayed in spotscars for the foreseeable future I'd be very happy.

"A lot of people talk about Formula One but this is right up there with it."

Is he feeling more confident for his second stab at Le Mans glory?

"I feel much more prepared than I did last year, testing has gone better. I think Audi have done a fantastic job over the winter.

"We had a strong package last year but we knew Toyota had done a great job so we haven't rested on our laurels, we've worked hard over the winter and come back stronger."

The weather for the race looks unsettled and Jarvis thinks that any rain could play into Audi's hands over Toyota, particularly with what he saw at the Le Mans test day earlier this month and the differences between the two team's energy retrieval systems

"We run a front-wheel drive KERS and they run rear wheel. What that means is they get all the power from the rear and they can activate their KERS system much earlier which in the dry is actually very effective but unfortunately in the wet when you have very little grip you can't use all the power whereas we effectively get four wheel drive, which is a better fit. So, it definitely looked like Audi had the advantage."

Having said that, Jarvis doesn't expect an easy ride from Toyota and is certain their rivals have overcome their reliability issues and are ready to give them a hard fight.

"I think it's going to be very close.

"We know they've got a very competitive package. From our analysis after Spa, it looked like they were going to be very strong. We're taking the threat very seriously.

"I think whoever wins will have to run a perfect race and push 100% for 24 hours."

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