Spirit of Daytona Racing will be back in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship action this weekend as the team looks to return to victory lane at Watkins Glen International. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen (FS1 live broadcast starting at 9:30 AM ET) marks the midway point of the 2018 IMSA season as well as the third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.
The No. 90 Cadillac DPi-V.R will be put through the rigors of six hours of flat out racing by Spirit of Daytona drivers Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry. The duo were last in IMSA action together in Detroit, where the day was cut short by a driveline issue.
Ahead of that outing, the team had completed a first-ever test at Watkins Glen with the Cadillac Prototype, and arrives at the upstate New York track looking forward to making its first start with the machine at Watkins Glen. The team, which won the Laguna Seca round of IMSA competition late in 2017, won the 2015 edition of the Sahlen’s Six Hour and will look for that same result this Sunday.
“Our test at the Glen earlier this year was one of the best we’ve had and hopefully that will give us a good platform to start the weekend,” said team owner Troy Flis. “Of course the conditions will be a lot different-it will be very warm it looks like. This is a race we’ve won, and that also gives us a little bit more confidence heading into the event to know we’ve done it before. IMSA is incredibly competitive, so it will be a big challenge and I am sure it will come down to the last few laps, so hopefully we can execute all day long to be there for a win at the end.”
The team fought to a fourth place finish in the 6 hour race in 2017, but has podium ambitions with the Cadillac as the intensity of a 6 hour race is expected to be relentless.
“Based on how we did in testing I think we have the speed to contend for the podium at the Glen,” said McMurry. “Hopefully we can get a good spot in qualifying, and the rest of the race will just come down to consistency and reliability. At Watkins Glen it’s important to look after you tires. Through the years, that has been something that has caught some teams out. Another important part part of the track is the bus stop, a lot of time can be made up there so its important to be able to ride those curbs well.”
“It’s a 6-Hour race but to be honest it goes a bit like a sprint – there isn’t much time for recovery if something goes wrong – so you need to execute perfectly just like in a sprint,” said Vautier, who scored the Motul Pole position for the Sebring 12 Hour. “We’re really hoping for a solid, well-executed race. We’re going to be pushing 100% as always and focus on performance, but with a DNF because of a gearbox issue in Detroit, we now really want to see the checkered with a solid race. I’m pretty excited because I always enjoy longer stints and more driving time, plus more can happen in the endurance races so I’m always looking forward to them a little more.”
Despite running the select schedule of IMSA events, the schedule has been packed for McMurry, who was on hand for the Le Mans 24 Hour with Algarve Pro Racing where he helps with development, datum laps as well as coaching.
He has kept his competitive focus in tact between events, as the University of California, Irvine student is also really involved in the Formula SAE program for the school-serving as both the river and being responsible for the brake system for the bespoke car. While he relishes the SAE program, he is really looking forward to getting back on board the Cadillac Prototype.
“Being the first endurance race since Sebring three months ago doesn’t really change the mindset going into the race, especially because this is a fairly short ‘endurance’ race,” said McMurry. “I’ve definitely enjoyed having Tristan as my codriver. He’s ultra-fast and I’ve been learning a lot from him. We have similar driving styles which will help at the Glen a lot. It’s important for both drivers to be comfortable in the car, especially on such a high speed track!”
The first year driver pairing has shown great promise thus far, and will look to deliver on that promise this weekend.
“Matt is a super teammate – we get along really well,” said Vautier. “Our driving styles are similar and the good thing is that our feedback regarding the car is pretty much always the same, so that avoids fist fighting when Rick (Cameron) has to decide what changes to make to the car! We had a good test at the Glen in April, we were both very comfortable with the car, so obviously that will translate for the race weekend, keeping in mind that the conditions will be very different. “
Source. Sunday Group