Vautier vaults to top of time sheet at Toronto

July 6, 2012 (Toronto, ON) - Tristan Vautier's maiden voyage through Firestone Indy Lights racetracks hasn't encountered any major pitfalls -- he has three pole starts and two victories. It appears he's quickly learned the nuances of the challenging 1.75-mile, 11-turn street circuit at Exhibition Place, too.

Vautier, driving the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian car, posted the quickest lap of the afternoon session and overall (1 minute, 4.7297 seconds) on the last of his 27 laps. That knocked Sebastian Saavedra (1:04.8965) of Team AFS from the top of the time sheet.

"The track is very bumpy and very tricky, a lot of different kinds of corners, so it’s tricky to set the car up," said Vautier, who has started from the pole the past two races. "It’s tricky to go from corner to corner changing your approach because some corners have a concrete patch, some of them are good, some braking zones are rough, some are smooth, so it’s very interesting.

"Definitely interesting to work with the engineer on the car because there’s a lot to do, and from a driving standpoint it was very challenging because of the heat, the bumps and everything. It’s very competitive, very tight at the front, so I think tomorrow is going to be ery exciting."

Carlos Munoz, another first-time competitor at Exhibition Place, was third (1:05.0276) and Esteban Guerrieri, the 2011 race pole sitter and Firestone Indy Lights championship points leader, was fourth (1:05.0941). The top nine cars were separated by 0.8968 of a second.

A 45-minute all-car qualifying session (8:45 a.m. ET) July 7 will set the grid for the 50-lap race at 5 p.m. (ET).

Oliver Webb, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, was fifth (1:05.1199).