Last week Dale Coyne informed Autosport: “So long as they continue to be in IndyCar, I think ‘Sulli’ and Jimmy will remain partners with us. They’re not going to go out on their own, and I don’t think other teams can give them what we give them.”
However, Sullivan has painted a special image of VSR’s short-term future, saying that he and Vasser are contemplating different partnerships for 2022.
Sullivan shaped SH Racing in 2010 to compete in motocross and rallycross, earlier than hooking up with Kevin Kalkhoven’s and Vasser’s IndyCar workforce KV Racing on the finish of 2013 to kind KVSH Racing. However, regardless of Sebastien Bourdais scoring 4 wins over the course of the following three seasons, the workforce was dissolved in early 2017.
The following 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.
While Bourdais was launched on the finish of ’19, and the workforce misplaced each technical director Craig Hampson (to Arrow McLaren SP) and race engineer Michael Cannon (to Chip Ganassi Racing), Vasser and Sullivan stored 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 proscribing lap time in follow, a number of poor pitstops and unlucky methods, in order that the #18 automobile presently sits 22nd in entrant factors. The 2016 Indy Lights champion’s points have left him within the shadows, significantly when put next with the incessantly glowing performances of ex-Formula 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 consider one thing of an upheaval might be vital within the offseason.
Sullivan defined to Autosport: “Our business relationships are strong, however we’ve bought to ship on the observe. Off-track, we do what I’d think about an above-average job, however subsequent yr we’ve got to ship as-good if not higher than we did in ’18, ’19 and ’20 and that clearly must contain change from what we’re doing in 2021.
“What change that form will take, we haven’t completely decided, but we all know that things have to look different next season.”
Regarding the motive force of the #18, Sullivan commented: “Ed’s need and objective for 2021 was to show that he might 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. But there have additionally been a number of occasions the place Ed might have performed one thing in a different way, or maybe been slightly extra aggressive.
“So I don’t suppose there’s one drawback that you might 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 undoubtedly had some unhealthy pitstops, we’ve got definitely had occasions the place we’ve got not given him a adequate automobile, and there have been occasions the place I believe even Ed would agree he might have performed issues slightly in a different way.
“But on the finish of the season, Jimmy and I want to have the ability to look ourselves within the mirror and notice 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 associate.
“The internet result’s that the workforce goes to need to look slightly totally 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 happy with merely being a part of the scene.
“It could be that we continue with Dale Coyne Racing, or it could be that it’s a different partnership. We are listening to others, checking out ideas that have been presented to us for new partnerships.”
One half of Coyne’s evaluation – that Vasser and Sullivan are usually not but able to kind a freestanding entity in IndyCar – is right nonetheless.
“Jimmy and I do ultimately want to do that – going out on our own, and having the IndyCar and IMSA operations working out of our Charlotte shop,” stated Sullivan. “We’ve discussed that, and we decided that 2022 will not be the year that happens.”
Imsa Prospects Looking Brighter After First Win Of ’21
The Vasser Sullivan Lexus workforce has been removed from nameless within the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, VSR’s first season with out being in partnership with AIM Autosport. However, outcomes have been powerful to return by, on condition that the GT Daytona class – due to IMSA’s largely masterful dealing with of its arguably regrettable Balance of Performance system – has resulted in amazingly shut competitors between the marques.
But 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 pissed off by to this point touchdown only one win – and 5 different top-five finishes – within the after seven of 12 rounds in 2021.
“Yeah, it’s been difficult,” he stated. “But first let me say that the Lexus program is operating higher than ever. It’s one thing we’re awfully pleased with: having the raceshop in Charlotte has been an enormous plus for us.
“But 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 in a position to shut the deal and get the win. You pound your head in opposition to the wall wishing there was one central drawback that wanted to be solved to satisfy our potential there, as a result of then we’d simply clear up it!
“But within the first 5 occasions, we had 5 extremely remoted totally 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 probably the most half. For instance, within the Watkins Glen Six Hours, we confirmed that the those that we’ve bought and the automobiles that we’ve bought are all sturdy, however what are you able to do a few warning flag that falls on the mistaken time and turns the order of the highest eight or 10 automobiles again to entrance so late within the race? That’s simply a kind of conditions that you may’t management, however Jack and Aaron salvaged a sixth place there.
“Then in the Glen sprint race the following week, we rebounded really strongly and got a 1-2 which means the guys got their emotional tanks refilled! There’s a lot of value in that. And last week at Lime Rock, a track which historically has not been kind to our cars, we showed up stronger than we’ve ever been there and we got a podium. That was like a win for us, so we’ve got wind in our sails now.”
And wanting on the GT program for the short- and medium-term future?
“Jimmy and I don’t have anything formal to announce yet regarding Lexus but we’re getting pretty close,” stated Sullivan. “Everyone’s desire and intent is there to continue in GT racing, so look out for an announcement soon.”
Sullivan added that there’s nothing on the horizon to distract Vasser Sullivan Racing, akin to him returning to his SH Racing roots.
“I still love rallycross, I love the electrification of rallycross and don’t be surprised if some ways down the road we announce a return,” he stated. “But that may not be a accountable transfer proper now.
“We’re fiercely focused on getting back on the podium in IndyCar and winning a championship in IMSA GTD and on. Like I say, we’re not in either series just to be there, so going rallycross, adding a third spoke to our wheel, is not something we’re immediately considering. We have unfinished business with what we’re doing already.”