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Vautier: Additional Testing Bringing Gains for JDC-Miller

Tristan Vautier on massive gains made to JDC-Miller Cadillac squad heading into 12H Sebring defense…

Photo: JDC-Miller Motorsports

Tristan Vautier believes JDC-Miller Motorsports has improved by “30 to 40 percent” compared to last year, as the Minnesota-based team heads into next weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as defending race winners.

Vautier teamed with Loic Duval and Sebastien Bourdais for victory in their Cadillac DPi.V-R at Sebring in 2021, despite a damaged rear wing that the four-time Champ Car champion had to deal with in the closing stages of the race.

While Bourdais has moved over to the factory Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing squad this year, with Richard Westbrook stepping in as the team’s new full-season driver alongside Vautier, the Frenchman believes they’re in a considerably better position with their package as a whole.

“I don’t want to jinx us, but it seems like we made a good step forward last year at Petit Le Mans,” said Vautier. “Even if it didn’t convert to a win there, we had a good feeling going into the off-season.

“And at Daytona, it was confirmed [with a podium finish].

“I hope we can keep on that trend and that Sebring can be another confirmation that we are on a really good track to be in the fight.

“I want to be in the fight; I want to be in the position where when it comes down to it in the last two hours we will be in the position where we can go for it like we were at Daytona.

“The team has been working really hard, non-stop.”

Vautier said one of the big gains has come with additional testing, a luxury the team did not have for the most part last year.

The Mustang Sampling-sponsored Cadillac recently tested at the 3.7-mile airfield circuit ahead of the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

“Last year, we had two test days all season,” Vautier said.

“I think this year we might be able to test a little more, and that has been helping us as well.

“The test felt good, but until you are on the race track with all the other cars around you it’s hard to really validate where you’re at.

“At Daytona, we didn’t test and were still good, but there was quite a lot of practice time.

“Last year, we had a chance to test before Petit and things were better and now, we had a chance to test before Sebring.

“I know that’s going to be a validation – if things go well and we’re going to be right there, we’ll be able to say this definitely makes us take a step forward every time. The big test will be this race to validate.”

Vautier added: “I feel much better going into the race weekend than I did last year, but it’s such high level in DPi right now. If you have one little thing that’s wrong, you’re last. You’re not mid-field or anything.

“There are seven cars and the field is often covered by a half-second, so if something is not right, you’re last.

“So, we feel strong and we know we need to get everything right. We will have the validations once we are there.

“Sebring is a very specific track; depending on winds, temperature and track conditions, things can change very quickly on race weekend. I feel better, but we really don’t take anything for granted. It’s eyes forward.”

When asked about how much of a gain the car has made compared to last year, Vautier said “30, 40 percent.”

“It’s mainly us improving,” he admitted. “Obviously, Ganassi is coming with two cars [with a] massive operation, so the bar keeps getting risen by everyone.

“I would expect to have everybody raised their game this year, but I know compared to last year we’ve raised ours. We just have to see where it brings us. Does it bring us right there or are we still a bit behind. That I cannot say at the moment.”

Westbrook Has Adapted “Very Quickly” to DPi Ranks

Vautier believes the addition of Westbrook into the team’s lineup has been “very good” for the team.

The 46-year-old Englishman made his long-awaited DPi debut at Daytona in January, challenging for the win in the qualifying race and showing impressive pace in the race itself.

“I think the result and the overall performance has showed it,” Vautier said. “He very experienced. He has not driven prototype for a long time, but he adapted back very quickly, and I think all three of us – Richard, Loic and I – we are very close.

“Daytona showed our lineup was very consistent. We all bring different things to the table for the team.

“Richard is older and has a lot of experience, so there are things he brings for me as a younger driver in sports cars.

“There are a lot of things I can learn, which I have already learned from Seb and Loic. We all bring things that are unique, and I think it makes the lineup quite complete.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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