The JDC-Miller Motorsports Entry Has Discovered Renewed Tempo

By Mark Robinson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Spirits stay excessive with the drivers and crew of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi, regardless of disappointing finishes within the final two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.

That’s as a result of the No. 5 Cadillac has proven a renewed competitiveness and is now set with a secure lineup of all French drivers for the 2021 season.

Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval are the full-season pilots of the No. 5, with Sebastien Bourdais going from a full-time driver final season to endurance-race addition this 12 months as he returns to a full-season gig within the NTT IndyCar Collection. The trio ran robust all through the 2020 finale, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Introduced by Advance Auto Elements, however completed fifth after compelled right into a late pit cease to switch a broken rear wing part.

Then in final month’s season opener, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 5 was within the hunt once more, main 106 of the primary 226 laps. Just below 9 hours into the 24-hour marathon, nevertheless, Vautier was the harmless sufferer when two different vehicles made contact and one careened into him. Prolonged repairs within the storage ensued, relegating the No. 5 to a seventh-place end within the Daytona Prototype worldwide (DPi) class and thirty fourth total.

“We’ve been feeling good with the automotive since Sebring final November,” Vautier mentioned. “It looks as if we made a giant step ahead there and we have been hoping it was not simply luck and we might preserve it at Daytona.”

It appeared that means as effectively. Vautier and Duval drove the automotive to a third-place end within the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race every week earlier than the Rolex 24. Together with Bourdais, they have been operating robust and biding their time within the Rolex 24, till a pair of vehicles collided on the frontstretch and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche hit the No. 5 within the aftermath.

“It appeared like because the second we unloaded (at Daytona), we have been very aggressive, throughout the qualifying race in each combined and dry situations and for the primary a part of the (Rolex 24) race,” Vautier recalled. “Yeah, it’s simply unlucky the way in which it occurred. There was nothing we might do as a result of it was really not even the (No.) 16. He received hit within the again by one other Porsche and despatched into me spinning.”

Regardless of the miserable end result, the JDC-Miller group is discovering a silver lining. The newfound tempo has John Church, JDC’s CEO and managing associate, excited. It wasn’t essentially the case earlier final season, even when the No. 5 opened the 12 months with a trio of third-place finishes. These outcomes, Church mentioned, have been achieved extra on “perseverance and technique” than outright pace.

“We undoubtedly didn’t finally have the quickest automotive or one of many sooner vehicles,” Church admitted. “Now we’ve received, I believe, one of many sooner vehicles. We simply have to convert it into outcomes. I’d moderately be the place we’re at immediately than all the time hanging on, ready for everyone else to have some unhealthy luck or misfortune for us to have the outcomes.”

After spending the primary half of 2020 in JDC-Miller’s second DPi entry, the No. 85 Cadillac, Vautier joined Bourdais and Duval within the No. 5 for the latter half of the marketing campaign. With the group operating a single entry this 12 months, all focus may be on optimizing the No. 5 Cadillac for every race. Competing towards a few of the WeatherTech Championship’s powerhouse groups in its premier class generally makes for JDC-Miller to an afterthought, however Vautier is ok with that.

“Sure, some individuals are likely to overlook us as a result of perhaps you’ve gotten groups with massive names and likewise enormous assets and large help behind them that we don’t essentially have,” he mentioned. “We have to make every greenback go an extended means than many others, however the group is run very well.

“We confirmed that we are able to do it in Daytona. As I mentioned, if we maintain doing what we’ve been doing, it’s going to click on.”

Church agreed, particularly because the subsequent race is a return to Sebring Worldwide Raceway for the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“I’m inspired by our tempo. Our tempo was good, the group is working very well collectively proper now,” Church mentioned. “We simply hit two type of heartbreaking races in a row. We have been in good place at Sebring after we received hit late within the race (in November), which did a good bit extra bodywork harm than it seemed like. We’re placing ourselves in place to have good outcomes, we simply have to be there on the finish.

“We simply maintain going with what we’ve been doing and finally the luck goes to go our means. It’s going to return to us finally.”

Motion for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Wednesday, March 17. The 12-hour race on the 17-turn, 3.74-mile street course begins at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday, March 20. Tickets can be found at SebringRaceway.com.