Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry will lead Spirit of Daytona Racing on its return to General Motors as a factory Cadillac DPi-V.R team.
With France’s Vautier, SDR receives a leader whose turn to IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after IndyCar continues to reach new heights. And with McMurry, one of the most accomplished young American drivers has stepped into a prime opportunity that could be transformative for his career. The team’s endurance driver will be named in the coming weeks.
“I’m honored to be joining this team, they achieved well in difficult circumstances last year so I think it is a good group,” said Vautier. “I want to race against the best drivers and the best teams, and that is what IMSA is becoming with the DPi so I’m very excited. It is so competitive and I think it will be difficult to compare the depth of field in 2018 even to last year. As a racer that is very exciting for me.
“I’m also very happy to be working with Rick [Cameron, Spirit of Daytona engineer] again because we have a good history together and hopefully Matt and I can continue that this season.”
Between his college studies pursuing an aerospace engineering degree and racing in IMSA’s hottest category, McMurry will be busy putting his mind and talent to work in 2018.
“The Prototypes have so much grip, these cars are really amazing to drive and I cannot wait to see what this Cadillac is like,” he said McMurry. “IMSA is so competitive and I’m very excited to be stepping up into Prototypes with a winning team like Spirit of Daytona.
“I think Tristan and I will mesh well together, we’ve got similar personalities and approaches. We’ve also both raced GT cars so have experience being the slower traffic, so we understand what that perspective is like and hopefully we can put that to good use this year.”
Together, Vautier (28) and McMurry (20) give SDR a fresh start after a mostly troubled season spent as an independent WEC LMP2 entrant. The GM-related makeover, first reported by RACER in November, represents a wholesale change for the Troy Flis-owned program as the Visit Florida Racing team name, Ligier JS P217 chassis, and drivers Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens from the 2017 effort have either been dropped or moved on to other opportunities.
“Last season was so difficult, but even though we were on the back foot for a lot of the year, I think we learned a lot as an organization and improved as a team,” said Flis.
“Winning at Mazda Raceway was a great way to demonstrate that, and now we are focused on taking that momentum and getting a quick start with this Cadillac DPi. We just want to give our drivers a solid platform with the car to learn and just get better as the season goes on.”
Flis is confident the new-look SDR will become a stronger contender with the Vautier-McMurry-Cadillac combination.
“It is remarkable how much racing Matt has already done at a high level, so we were glad to have been able to sign him,” he said. “He’s got a strong future, and we want to be a part of that. We have also worked with Tristan in the past, so these two should be an awesome combination. I’m really happy to have everything come together with these drivers and with rejoining GM and this Cadillac program.”
The next step for SDR is to get its brand-new Cadillac prepared for the upcoming season. Having picked up the chassis at Dallara’s base in Speedway, IN., the team will look to turn some exploratory laps prior to the Jan. 5-7 Roar Before the 24 at Daytona where the latest addition to the DPi-V.R family will give IMSA 10 DPis for fans to follow.
Although SDR’s full Rolex 24 lineup is being finalized, Eddie Cheever III is expected to be part of the team’s driver rotation at the Roar.