The blue No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R secured pole position for this weekend’s 66th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, posting a 1:47.432 in Qualifying with Tristan Vautier at the wheel. Sebring represents Cadillac’s second pole start of the season out of as many races, despite the fact that the Cadillac DPi-V.R was given an extra 10 kg (22 pounds) of ballast after its victory at Daytona earlier this year.
“No one expected that lap time,” Vautier remarked after Qualifying. “The lap really didn’t feel that good. I saw a 47 on the dash and I didn’t expect it to be that quick. That was the first time we were on new tires and low fuel, so the pole is good.”
Spirit of Daytona Racing, which competed as VisitFlorida Racing from 2015 through 2017, is brand-new to the successful Cadillac DPi-V.R race car. Last year, the team ran a Ligier powered by a Gibson 4.2L V8. Its inaugural race performance with the Cadillac was a let-down, the team withdrawing just before midnight after an engine misfire manifested that couldn’t be repaired at the track.
“We just got the car in early December,” Vautier said. “We were in the top five in Daytona and even led the race… We are focused on the race tomorrow, since Daytona was a disappointment. We will push through the day and stay in contention and look to the last two hours to really race.”
Spirit of Daytona Racing can expect plenty of competition from the other three teams running the Cadillac DPi-V.R race car – especially Mustang Sampling Racing, which qualified in eighth, and is looking to build on its success from the Rolex 24 at Daytona with another consecutive win. Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the Prototype class, only managed to qualify in tenth. Like Spirit of Daytona Racing, WTR, too, was forced to withdraw from the race at Daytona, after a bout of tire punctures.
“It is not what we came for to qualify tenth,” driver Renger Van Der Zande – formerly of VisitFlorida Racing, but now with WTR – said. “We are trying to find a good handling car. We have seen some speed, but not exactly what we want. We are still working on the Cadillac and we will need it to be just right for the end of the race tomorrow. The Konica Minolta team is strong and we will make some adjustments for the warm-up tomorrow.”
The fourth Cadillac DPi-V.R team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Whelen Engineering Racing, qualified in fifth for Sebring with a lap time of 1:47.853.