Tristan Vautier says JDC-Miller Motorsports needs to win races in order to be in with a chance of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title, despite the team’s ultra-consistent start to the season.
Vautier and Richard Westbrook are the only DPi drivers to have landed on the podium in all three races to date, with the driver pairing currently sitting in a close second to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Lynn and Earl Bamber.
The three-point gap entering this weekend’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca could easily see the tides turn depending on the results in the first two-hour and 40-minute race of the season.
The Minnesota-based squad has not won in WeatherTech Championship competition since last year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“We had a rocky season with very high highs and very low lows last year, so it’s been good to start on a pretty consistent streak of races,” Vautier said.
“Ending on the podium three races in a row is good and we’re happy because we have started on the right foot and it’s good points.
“At the same time, we know that to win the championship you do have to be consistent but you have to win races, so we have to win some.
“We were really disappointed not to win Daytona. We felt like we had a great shot. We were close at Sebring, but have to admit that both Ganassi cars were very strong.
‘In Long Beach, honestly, we were lacking performance. It was that kind of day when you have a fifth-place car and you score a podium, so you leave the track very happy.
“That’s what is going to keep our title chances alive. We need to be consistent, but also be able to be in the hunt for wins.”
With only six full-season DPi entries, Vautier said maximizing points is even more crucial than ever before.
“I think it’s the nature of the championship,” he said. “You have six cars, six great operations and great teams, and IMSA has a pretty good handle on the balance of performance right now.
“Obviously, some tracks favor some cars. The Cadillac is better on certain tracks than the Acura and vice versa.
“The way the races play out with the yellows, that’s the nature of IMSA racing. Anyone can win every week.
“Whoever executes perfectly and is on their game has a shot at winning.
“At the same time, the guy who won the previous weekend if they don’t do everything perfect they can easily be last.
“It tends to shuffle things very quickly and I think that’s why for the last years every time we’ve see a tight battle until the end because it’s so easy to be last, but you can turn things around very quickly and win.”
Vautier said it’s “too early” to be monitoring the No. 02 CGR Cadillac, with the majority of the championship still to play out.
“We are three races down, there are seven races to go,” he said.
“You just try to maximize every race with obviously keeping in mind that you are in a championship approach, and you have to be points-focused and points-oriented.
“But if you spend your time worrying about where the competition is at, especially the way those races play out that things can flip just on a pit strategy, three races into the championship it’s not the right approach.
“It might be something that you’re going to worry more about with one or two races to go.
“Maybe, depending on your position, you try to copy what the other guys are doing or do the opposite and kind of gamble.
“Right now, we have a long way to go to be in the hunt. You try to take it one race at a time.”