Tristan Vautier Interview

The Rolex 24 kicks the IMSA WeatherTech season off this weekend in style, with a 24 hour sprint race around the Daytona International Speedway. In the build up to the race I spoke with Frenchman Tristan Vautier. Vautier has built his career in America, first excelling on the Mazda Road to Indy program.

He worked his way up to Indycar, but only managed one season at the top level in 2013. Since then his focus has switched to sportscar racing. He has been racing in IMSA since 2014, along with a burgeoning international GT career with Mercedes-Benz. Vautier drove for JDC-Miller Motorsport last year, with two fifths their best results in a tough  season for the team.

The team has expanded to two cars for this year, and their Cadillac package is always competitive, especially at Daytona. After testing both cars at the Roar, Vautier was a late confirmation for the #85 crew alongside Matheus Leist, Juan Piedrahita and Chris Miller. With the race only a matter of days away, let’s see how Vautier views the teams chances.

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Vautier celebrating winning the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2018. His role with Mercedes-Benz is expanding. Photo: Mercedes-Benz.

How happy are you to be back with JDC-Miller for the Rolex 24?

I’m super happy to be re-united with the team. Our relationship started in 2011 when we won the Star Mazda Championship together, which was a launching pad for me in my open wheel career. So it’s always special to run with them.

How much of a coup was it for the team to be running the #5 Mustang Sampling car?

The team proved last year that we could do a good job with the Cadillac considering it was our first season with the car. So I think it’s logical that it attracted some interest.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Cadillac at Daytona?

It’s hard to say, the whole field was very tight at the Roar. Mazda and Acura seemed to have an edge on straight line speed, which obviously plays a big part in the lap time around Daytona,  but the Cadillac was strong in the infield. 

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Vautier was a late confirmation at JDC-Miller, but returns to the team he drove for last season. Photo: Michael Levitt/Jake Galstad via IMSA.

How was the Roar test for the #85 team?

The Roar was very good for the whole team. We unloaded strong and started at a much better place than last year. Action Express seemed to still have a slight edge on us but we were close.All 4 of us were happy with the car balance and we were all relatively strong pace-wise, so we are setting higher goals for ourselves this year for sure.

Who are your main rivals at the Rolex 24 this year?

The field is so competitive, there isn’t a single car that you can’t discount. We’ll just focus on ourselves and try to execute a good race, and see where that puts us.

Are you likely to do more endurance rounds with JDC-Miller this year?

 

That’s our common goal but nothing is sure at the moment. The only thing I can control right now is my performance at Daytona. After that, we’ll see.

Are you likely to be back in GT3 racing this year and what series are you likely to focus on?
I should be back in GT3 in Europe, I’m just not sure yet what my program will be exactly.
I would like to thank Tristan for taking the time to answer these questions and wish him the best of luck for this weekend. Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you have any comments on this piece.

 

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