No pressure: Vaxiviere set to replace Alonso at Sebring

Image by Nikolaz Godet/LAT

No pressure: Vaxiviere set to replace Alonso at Sebring

IMSA

No pressure: Vaxiviere set to replace Alonso at Sebring

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Matthieu Vaxiviere knows he has big shoes to fill when he steps into the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The team is coming off an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, where regular drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande co-drove with guest stars Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi.

“Humungous shoes,” said Wayne Taylor Racing co-owner Max Angelelli, who “discovered” the 24-year-old Frenchman.

“Part of my job is keeping my eyes open and looking at what’s going on in the industry,” Angelelli said. “I’m going to races, looking at young up-and-coming drivers with different experience that can complement the drivers that we already have.

“A little bit like getting the sauce on top of a nice pasta.”

Vaxiviere, who raced in various French national series and GP3 before graduating to Le Mans with TDS Racing’s LMP2 team in 2017, was introduced as the team’s driver for the Michelin Endurance Cup races at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta prior to the Rolex 24, won by the Taylor team for the second time in three years.

“I saw Matthieu, I followed him, and I felt he deserved the chance,” Angelelli said.

“I can only guess the pressure that he’s under,” Angelelli added. “Especially on our team — we are very demanding in all aspects. It’s not all about speed, it’s about team play and everything. It’s not easy. I’m staying away, I don’t want to increase the pressure.”

Vaxiviere spent time with the team at the Rolex 24 — staying in Jordan Taylor’s spare bedroom — and got to know about its inner workings. Two weeks ago, he had the opportunity to test the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R at Sebring.

“This is an amazing team,” Vaxiviere said. “It was the best team in the field at the Rolex, and they’ve been really, really good for a long time. It’s a real pleasure to be here, and I will try to do my best to help them in the long-distance races. There is a nice atmosphere here, and now I’m looking forward to racing with them.

“The car was really great in the test at Sebring,” he added. “We learned a lot over the two days, and I really enjoyed working with Renger, Jordan and the team. it’s nice to be here. Fernando and Kamui did really good at Daytona, and I will try to continue the work that they did here.”

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