Tristan Vautier will complete JDC-Miller Motorsports’ Rolex 24 At Daytona line-up, which also completes a rollercoaster of an offseason for the 2012 Indy Lights champion.
The 30-year-old Frenchman returns to the No. 85 Cadillac DPi-V.R he drove for the full 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and was expected to continue in a full-time role within the organization for 2020 until unforeseen changes in the NTT IndyCar Series intervened.
With friend and countryman Sebastien Bourdais in the frame to join JDC-Miller for the four endurance races as extracurricular fun while competing for Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar, Vautier prepared for another run at the DPi title with the Minnesota-based IMSA team. Once Bourdais’ IndyCar plans were derailed by Coyne, and his full-time availability became an option for JDC-Miller, Vautier’s anticipated role transitioned into something less defined.
Confirmed for the No. 85 Cadillac at Daytona, the former IndyCar driver is hoping to get the call for more races in the yellow and black machine throughout the year.
“Things happened a bit last minute for me, and it’s changed with Sebastien coming in, but my friends at JDC-Miller confirmed me for the No. 85 Cadillac at Daytona, and I will be ready to do more races with them if they ask,” he told RACER.
“It’s a long relationship that started with JDC in 2011 when we won the championship in Star Mazda, and they are my closest team. We’ll start at Daytona, and go race-by-race. I’m used to this scenario and have done it many times in my career. The thing I can control is doing my best when I’m asked to drive. I’m already grateful the team has pushed so hard to have me in the car, and I know a lot of drivers were lining up at the trailer in Daytona wanting to be in the seat I’m in.”
The changing fortunes for Vautier and Bourdais, with Dale Coyne Racing as the catalyst, is nothing new. Vautier was tasked with replacing Bourdais at Coyne at the 2017 Texas IndyCar race as the elder Frenchman recovered from the injuries he suffered during qualifying for the Indy 500. Vautier also stood by, in one of Bourdais’ spare suits, at the September IndyCar season finale at Laguna Seca when a neck injury nearly forced Bourdais out of the cockpit.
With a racing schedule that has more open dates than he desires, Vautier expects to attend more IndyCar races to be ready if any needs arise for substitute drivers.
“Getting back to IndyCar to do more races is something I’ve kept pushing for the whole time,” he added. “For the last three seasons, I’ve had about 20 sports car races, so I haven’t been in IndyCar as much as before; but I almost drove in Monterey last year, and I will spend more time at IndyCar races to be there if someone needs good results.”