Motorsport News

Tristan Vautier’s Detroit IndyCar Whirlwind

Tristan Vautier at the 2024 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

DETROIT, Mich. — Tristan Vautier‘s persistent calling of Dale Coyne for a race seat, even if only temporary, finally paid off.

Coyne called the Frenchman Tuesday (May 28) afternoon while he was at home in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Vautier accepted the ride in the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing (DCR) Honda without hesitation.

During Friday’s practice session, the 2012 Indy NXT champion was last in the 27-car field, 2.9 seconds off of session leader Alex Palou‘s fastest lap, which clocked at just over a minute (1:01.7210) around the 9-turn, 1.645-mile street course.

“At the end of the session when I started feeling a bit more comfortable, I got going, it was really cool,” Vautier said in the post-practice press conference.

“It’s one of those things. The slower it is, the scarier it is, because the tires don’t get up to temperature and all that. It was all right. We know what to work on to keep improving tomorrow and close the gap. It was a good first session, I feel. Relatively good.”

For many drivers, that gap would be a large way off of the leader, but that’s an impressive mark for Vautier.

Detroit marks Vautier’s first IndyCar race since Texas Motor Speedway in 2017 and his first on a road or street course since the 2015 season finale at Sonoma Raceway, both races also with DCR. Both races were in a previous generation of aero kit, and the aeroscreen was still on the drawing board.

Vautier’s preparation for Detroit was expedited. There was an issue with his old seat so a new one had to be made overnight. The team actually inserted it into the car while it was in line heading to technical inspection before Friday’s practice session.

The 2011 USF Pro 2000 champion had no simulator time ahead of the race weekend and was basically thrown into the deep end. Success for Vautier is defined differently than it would be for Palou.

“I want to see the checkered, have a solid race with no mistakes,” Vautier said. “I don’t want to put like a results goal, to be honest. Just try to execute my best every time I’m in the car.

“It’s like, really, every lap matters….

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