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

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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.”