Tristan Vautier will move up to Indy Lights for its 2012 season with the twice-defending champion team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, in the team's No. 77 car.
Vautier stormed to the 2011 Star Mazda title with four victories and top-five finishes in each of the 11 races. He earned the promotion to Indy Lights as the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, and like Conor Daly this past season will run with SSM.
“Things moved pretty quickly in the last weeks and Sam offered me the best opportunity,” Vautier said. “Regarding the quality of his team, I didn't hesitate too long!”
Vautier tested for both Andretti Autosport and Team E at the recent Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course, where he learned Team E's paddle-shift system on the first day and set the fastest time for Andretti on the second.
Schmidt's Indy Lights team has been the standard-bearer over the last decade, with five series champions emerging from SSM since 2004, the last two years with J.K. Vernay and Josef Newgarden.
“Tristan brings a wealth of experience and success to the team, and I'm excited to have him in the No. 77 car,” said Sam Schmidt Motorsports owner Sam Schmidt, whose team scored wins with four different drivers in 2011. “I look forward to working with another of the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship winners. It's a good program, and I'm proud to be a part of it.”
“When Mazda established our ladder program in 2007, we had drivers exactly like Tristan in our minds – drivers who can get the job done in the car and out of the car,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports. “We are so proud to be associated with the IZOD IndyCar Series on the Mazda Road to Indy and Tristan will be a terrific representative in 2012.”