Daytona Beach, Fla. (22 December 2017) – With the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season set to launch just down the road from the team headquarters in Daytona Beach, Spirit of Daytona Racing is pleased to announce that it will campaign the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R starting at the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team has signed Matt McMurry, a young talent on the move, to partner with French racer Tristan Vautier.
Spirit of Daytona Racing competed with two different LMP2 chassis manufacturers in 2017, and scored a thrilling IMSA WeatherTech race victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in just its second start with the Ligier JS P217. After weighing its options, the opportunity to return to work with General Motors emerged as a clear cut choice for the team.
Having brought Chevrolet its first-ever victory in Daytona Prototypes with the Corvette DP in 2012, Spirit of Daytona Racing looks forward to returning to the strong working relationships it had developed with ECR (motors) as well as General Motors which saw the team a regular championship contender in the Daytona Prototype era.
“Last season was so difficult but even though we were on the back foot for a lot of the year, I think we learned a lot as an organization and improved as a team,” said Team Owner Troy Flis. “Winning at Laguna Seca was a great way to demonstrate that, and now we are focused on taking that momentum and getting a quick start with this Cadillac DPi. We just want to give our drivers a solid platform with the car to learn and just get better as the year goes on.”
With the move to the DPi platform, Flis is confident that the team can reap the rewards of working with such a proven package in the Cadillac DPi.V-R, as well as the people behind it.
“The big thing is the opportunity to work with some of the same folks that we were so successful with when we were racing the Corvette DP,” said Flis. “Hopefully that will help us get up to speed with this car quickly. IMSA is going to be even more competitive in 2018 and we are really looking forward to being a factor this year with our new package.”
The driver roster is another source of optimism for the team as Vautier and McMurry bring equal parts speed and potential to the team. McMurry turned 20 just last month but already has established a large range of experience that includes both GT and Prototype class competition as well as having set several records including being the youngest racer to ever compete in the Le Mans 24 Hour in 2014.
Vautier has shown well in everything from GT3 to IndyCar competition and will bring those backgrounds to the fore as he move to compete in the top IMSA Prototype ranks
“It is remarkable how much racing Matt (McMurry) has already done at a high level, so we were glad to have been able to sign him,” said Flis. “He’s got a strong future and we want to be a part of that. We have also worked with Tristan in the past, so these two should be an awesome combination. I’m really happy to have everything come together with these drivers and with rejoining GM and this Cadillac program.”
Having raced his way up the American open wheel ladder on his way to racing in IndyCar, Vautier scored the 2011 Pro Mazda championship with Rick Cameron (Spirit of Daytona engineer) as his engineer. Vautier has also established himself as a fierce fighter in international GT3 competition and he sees his move to IMSA Prototypes coming at the right time.
“I’m honored to be joining this team, they achieved well in difficult circumstances last year so I think it is a good group,” said Vautier. “I want to race against the best drivers and the best teams, and that is what IMSA is becoming with the DPi so I’m very excited. It is so competitive and I think it will be difficult to compare the depth of field in 2018 even to last year. As a racer that is very exciting for me. I’m also very happy to be working with Rick (Cameron, Spirit of Daytona engineer) again because we have a good history together and hopefully Matt and I can continue that this season.”
McMurry, who is in his second year of college as he pursues a degree in aerospace engineering, will bring his Asian and European Le Mans Prototype as well as IMSA GT experience into the cockpit with him as he steps into the Cadillac DPi-V.R.
“The Prototypes have so much grip, these cars are really amazing to drive and I cannot wait to see what this Cadillac is like,” said McMurry, who will also compete in Formula SAE this year as part of his studies. “IMSA is so competitive and I’m very excited to be stepping up into Prototypes with a winning team like Spirit of Daytona. I think Tristan and I will mesh well together, we’ve got similar personalities and approaches. We’ve also both raced GT cars so have experience being the slower traffic so we understand what that perspective is like and hopefully we can put that to good use this year.”
Spirit of Daytona Racing will make its first appearance with the Cadillac DPi-V.R chassis this January at the famed Roar Before the 24 event on January 5-7. The team will make announcements about commercial partnerships and endurance driver line-ups ahead of the event.