IndyCar notes: Vautier, Hawksworth close on 2016 deals; Bourdais, Dixon star at PLM


Have been meaning to get to a number of Verizon IndyCar Series-related items following Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, as we wait official news on schedules, silly season and other competition-related potential news.

  • Vautier buoyed by Coyne test, focused on 2016: I spoke to Tristan Vautier during a rain-soaked Petit, to catch up with the Frenchman following his test at Road America a couple weeks ago. For both Vautier and the Dale Coyne Racing team, having that test so early in the offseason provides a very positive sign that the two want to continue together into a full-time opportunity in 2016, which would pick up on where Vautier was from the Indianapolis 500 onwards this year. The team wouldn’t be testing him, and testing this early, if there wasn’t a desire to continue, and that’s what Vautier hopes will happen.
  • Hawksworth close to Foyt extension: Also spoke to Jack Hawksworth, who was with RSR Racing for Petit Le Mans but didn’t get to drive in the race due to the conditions. The Houston-based Englishman said while he doesn’t have a contract yet for 2016 with A.J. Foyt Enterprises, he’s very close to it. He’s scheduled to test at Barber Motorsports Park in his No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda on October 26, as some other teams may be doing so as well.
  • Bourdais wins Petit, then heads to Australia: Sebastien Bourdais is busy this offseason. The Florida-based Frenchman headed out from his class win at Petit Le Mans co-driving with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, his second consecutive (Sebring) in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Action Express Racing Corvette DP to Bathurst this week for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. He’ll co-drive the No. 18 Holden with Lee Holdsworth. Of the conditions at Petit, Bourdais said, “It was a lot of aquaplaning. A lot of variations in coming down, how much aquaplaning you had to deal with. There was one big stressing moment, as you don’t want to be the one who screws it up for the entire championship. I was a bit agitated in the car. Conditions were horrendous. I was praying for it to go yellow again. It was a big relief at the end.”
  • Dixon agrees with Bourdais about tough conditions at Petit: Scott Dixon had his final scheduled start of the year, joining Scott Pruett and Joey Hand in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford which finished second to the No. 5 car. Dixon agreed with Bourdais about how challenging the conditions were: “This was the poorest conditions I’ve ever raced in. Been in conditions like this before, but under yellow. It was really tough conditions… you weren’t racing, you were surviving.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III