Vautier scrambles to P3 in Barber qualifying

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Tristan Vautier’s now gone two-for-two in Firestone Fast Six appearances. His second was done via the more unconventional route.

Vautier emerged disappointed in himself after missing out on the top six by nearly two full tenths of a second.

“Seventh is OK but I feel sorry for my team,” he said. “The car was able to advance and I did a mistake in a place that cost us a lot, and didn’t put the lap together and do the job. I could have just squeezed in there. My fault, I didn’t do the lap when it counted. It’s frustrating to miss the Fast Six for one position.”

Mere minutes later, Vautier turned into a traffic director in the paddock, pushing his team to get back out when informed they’d be promoted into the Fast Six after Takuma Sato’s blocking penalty.

“Right before the Fast Six started, I was looking at it, and I said, ‘Guys, I see my car in the top six, maybe we should bring it back to pit lane,’” said Vautier. “I have to give it to the guys. They brought the car back last minute and got it ready after the Fast Six started. It was a mix of emotions to be disappointed and then all of a sudden know I was in the Fast Six. I had to get back in it.”

In just two laps, Vautier had himself a third-place qualifying effort driving on pure determination and a well set up car.

“Yeah, I just tried to push very hard. My engineer made good changes on the car for the Fast Six and the tires were a bit more used. So it was a lot of fun honestly. It was so cool because the cars have so much grip. You can really push hard and give it all.”

After an exhaust issue sidelined his debut when running in the top five, Vautier seeks his first finish after his second straight excellent qualifying effort.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”