Adjustments coming at Vasser-Sullivan to beat IndyCar hunch

Final week Dale Coyne instructed Motorsport.com, “As long as they proceed to be in IndyCar, I believe ‘Sulli’ and Jimmy will stay companions with us. They’re not going to exit on their very own, and I don’t suppose different groups can provide them what we give them.”

Nonetheless, Sullivan has painted a distinct image of VSR’s short-term future, saying that he and Vasser are contemplating different partnerships for 2022.

Sullivan fashioned SH Racing in 2010 to compete in motocross and rallycross, earlier than hooking up with Kevin Kalkhoven’s and Vasser’s IndyCar group KV Racing on the finish of 2013 to kind KVSH Racing. Nonetheless, regardless of Sebastien Bourdais scoring 4 wins over the course of the subsequent three seasons, the group was dissolved in early 2017.

The next yr, Vasser and Sullivan reunited to grow to be co-entrants of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing entry, raced by Bourdais, and the combo scored on its race debut in St. Petersburg – an occasion they’d win once more the next yr.

Whereas Bourdais was launched on the finish of ’19, and the group misplaced each technical director Craig Hampson (to Arrow McLaren SP) and race engineer Michael Cannon (to Chip Ganassi Racing), Vasser and Sullivan saved religion with Coyne, operating Santino Ferrucci in 2020. The spotlight was fourth place within the Indianapolis 500.

This yr, nonetheless, Ed Jones within the #18 DCR with Vasser Sullivan entry has been largely nameless, not helped by mechanical points limiting lap time in apply, a number of poor pitstops and unlucky methods, in order that the #18 automobile at present sits 22nd in entrant factors. The 2016 Indy Lights champion’s points have left him within the shadows, notably when put next with the incessantly glowing performances of ex-Components 1 driver and IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean within the sister automobile, the #51 entry co-owned by Coyne and Rick Ware and engineered by the #18 automobile’s former engineer, Olivier Boisson.

The result’s that Sullivan says he and Vasser imagine one thing of an upheaval shall be needed within the offseason.

The partnership of James

The partnership of James “Sulli” Sullivan and Dale Coyne might not proceed past this season.

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Photographs

Sullivan defined to Motorsport.com: “Our business relationships are strong, however we’ve received to ship on the monitor. Off-track, we do what I’d take into account an above-average job, however subsequent yr we now have to ship as-good if not higher than we did in ’18, ’19 and ’20 and that clearly should contain change from what we’re doing in 2021.

“What change that kind will take, we haven’t fully determined, however everyone knows that issues should look completely different subsequent season.”

Concerning the driving force of the #18, Sullivan commented: “Ed’s want and purpose for 2021 was to show that he may nonetheless do that after a yr off [following his release by Ed Carpenter Racing at the end of 2019], and I’ll say there have been a number of occasions this season the place he has pushed extraordinarily effectively and fairly frankly we didn’t give him the automobile or alternative to succeed. However there have additionally been a number of occasions the place Ed may have finished one thing otherwise, or maybe been slightly extra aggressive.

“So I don’t suppose there’s one downside that you could possibly pin this on. It’s a mixture of this association that has not borne fruit in the way in which we hoped it could. We have now positively had some dangerous pitstops, we now have definitely had occasions the place we now have not given him a adequate automobile, and there have been occasions the place I believe even Ed would agree he may have finished issues slightly otherwise.

“However on the finish of the season, Jimmy and I would like to have the ability to look ourselves within the mirror and understand that it doesn’t matter the place the fault comes from: the duty is on us to ship. And that’s solely going to occur with the right combination of driver, engineering, crew and companion.

“The online result’s that the group goes to should look slightly completely different subsequent yr, and it’s too early to go on report and say what kind these modifications will take, however the truth is that we’re dedicated to this sport and we aren’t glad with merely being a part of the scene.

“It might be that we proceed with Dale Coyne Racing, or it might be that it’s a distinct partnership. We’re listening to others, trying out concepts which have been introduced to us for brand spanking new partnerships.”

One half of Coyne’s evaluation – that Vasser and Sullivan should not but able to kind a freestanding entity in IndyCar – is right nonetheless.

“Jimmy and I do finally need to try this – going out on our personal, and having the IndyCar and IMSA operations understanding of our Charlotte store,” mentioned Sullivan. “We’ve mentioned that, and we determined that 2022 is not going to be the yr that occurs.”

IMSA prospects wanting brighter after first win of ’21

 

Picture by: Artwork Fleischmann

The Vasser Sullivan Lexus group has been removed from nameless within the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech Sports activities Automotive Championship, VSR’s first season with out being in partnership with AIM Autosport. Nonetheless, outcomes have been robust to come back by, on condition that the GT Daytona class – due to IMSA’s largely masterful dealing with of its arguably regrettable Steadiness of Efficiency system – has resulted in amazingly shut competitors between the marques.

However after scoring 4 wins final yr and seeing Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth ending third and fourth within the championship, it’s little marvel that Sullivan has been annoyed by thus far touchdown only one win – and 5 different top-five finishes – within the after seven of 12 rounds in 2021.

“Yeah, it’s been troublesome,” he mentioned. “However first let me say that the Lexus program is operating higher than ever. It’s one thing we’re awfully happy with: having the raceshop in Charlotte has been a giant plus for us.

“However this season has been difficult for us for various causes in IMSA than in IndyCar. Up till the Watkins Glen dash [2hr40min] race, we had been fast however hadn’t been capable of shut the deal and get the win. You pound your head towards the wall wishing there was one central downside that wanted to be solved to meet our potential there, as a result of then we’d simply clear up it!

“However within the first 5 occasions, we had 5 extremely remoted completely different causes for not profitable or not being on the rostrum. And the problems weren’t right down to lack of tempo or a flaw within the driver line-up, and so they weren’t right down to the crew for essentially the most half. For instance, within the Watkins Glen Six Hours, we confirmed that the those that we’ve received and the vehicles that we’ve received are all robust, however what are you able to do a couple of warning flag that falls on the flawed time and turns the order of the highest eight or 10 vehicles again to entrance so late within the race? That’s simply a kind of conditions which you can’t management, however Jack and Aaron salvaged a sixth place there.

“Then within the Glen dash race the next week, we rebounded actually strongly and received a 1-2 which implies the fellows received their emotional tanks refilled! There’s loads of worth in that. And final week at Lime Rock, a monitor which traditionally has not been sort to our vehicles, we confirmed up stronger than we’ve ever been there and we received a podium. That was like a win for us, so we’ve received wind in our sails now.”

And looking out on the GT program for the short- and medium-term future?

“Jimmy and I don’t have something formal to announce but concerning Lexus however we’re getting fairly shut,” mentioned Sullivan. “Everybody’s want and intent is there to proceed in GT racing, so look out for an announcement quickly.”

Sullivan added that there’s nothing on the horizon to distract Vasser Sullivan Racing, resembling him returning to his SH Racing roots.

“I nonetheless love rallycross, I like the electrification of rallycross and don’t be stunned if some methods down the highway we announce a return,” he mentioned. “However that might not be a accountable transfer proper now.

“We’re fiercely targeted on getting again on the rostrum in IndyCar and profitable a championship in IMSA GTD and on. Like I say, we’re not in both collection simply to be there, so going rallycross, including a 3rd spoke to our wheel, shouldn’t be one thing we’re instantly contemplating. We have now unfinished enterprise with what we’re doing already.”

Aaron Telitz, Jack Hawksworth, Zach Veach and Frankie Montecalvo celebrate the Vasser Sullivan Lexus 1-2 in Watkins Glen's 2hr40 race.

Aaron Telitz, Jack Hawksworth, Zach Veach and Frankie Montecalvo have a good time the Vasser Sullivan Lexus 1-2 in Watkins Glen’s 2hr40 race.

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photographs

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