Spirit of Daytona driver Tristan Vautier has admitted to the error that caused the polesitting #90 Cadillac to pound the wall on the exit of the final turn in yesterday’s Sebring 12 Hours.
The former IndyCar driver had emerged from the pits with less than two hours to go, looking a likely contender for the podium.
However, while fiddling with switches in the cockpit, he skated wide exiting the final turn and struck the wall hard enough for the rebound to send the DPi-V.R three feet into the air.
The Troy Flis-owned team had recovered from a drive-through penalty and appeared to have the fastest of the Cadillacs in the closing stages, at least when Vautier was at the wheel. However, after solid stints from Matt McMurry and Eddie Cheever III, Vautier had just taken the wheel for a 105-minute run to the checkered when he made an error on cold tires.
“It started from the beginning of the out lap,” explained Vautier. “I flat-spotted a tire because I was too impatient trying to change a switch on the car. When I got to Turn 17, I locked up a bit.
“I didn’t feel as though I was as wide as I was, but when I realized my left side tires were in the marbles, I tried to get on the gas. But once you’re in the marbles, it’s like ice, and the wall came to me pretty quickly.
“I’m very sorry for the guys, because it was a big crash and it will take a lot of work to repair. But my hat is off to the entire team, they gave us an amazing car today. Our pace was good and the car was good throughout the entire race. I’m just sorry it ended like that.”
McMurry added: “We thought we could get a podium. The team did a great job getting the car ready despite mechanical issues early in the weekend. We held our pace throughout the race and kept the car in the top five, just getting ready for the final push. The car ran flawlessly the entire race, which makes it that much more disappointing.”
Flis, who also saw his car retire in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, said: "It’s a heartbreaker. We had a great car all weekend and our car ran great the entire day, so thanks to everyone at Cadillac.
“We’ve had a tough start to the year, but I know that’s racing, where there are super highs and super lows. This team is strong and we’ll be back to fight another day.”