Connect with us

Commentary

HAWKSWORTH: Carrying Confidence into Road America

AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus driver Jack Hawksworth checks into Sportscar365 following back-to-back GTD wins…

Photo: Lexus

It’s been a great restart to the IMSA season for AIM Vasser Sullivan and for Lexus. Aaron Telitz joined me as my full-time teammate in the No. 14 Lexus beginning at Daytona and it’s been a really good partnership up to this point.

Obviously, having two wins, it doesn’t get much better than that! I think we’ve gelled really well.

We’re both team players and we both want something similar from the car in terms of handling and setup. It’s been a smooth introduction into this new partnership. He’s done a really good job and I think it’s given everybody a boost.

We’re super stoked with our performance and results. Both races were a little bit different.

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

You always expect a little bit of rain in Florida in July at some point in the afternoon and we weren’t able to dodge that, so Daytona started off wet. The track was drying really fast at the start of the race and Aaron did a very good job in those slippery conditions on the slick tires.

Those conditions have always suited the Lexus RC F GT3 — whether it be Mid-Ohio or VIR last year — where the track is greasy and we’re able to turn the tires on just a little bit faster than some other teams and manufacturers.

Aaron and Frankie (Montecalvo) took full advantage of that and they were able to get good starts and put Townsend and I in both cars with comfortable leads.

From there, it was up to the two of us to make the stints long enough to make sure we could finish the race on two stops and bring home the victory. It was a fantastic one-two finish for AVS and for Lexus and we were super pumped coming out of that weekend.

We then went into Sebring and it was a very different race. The whole race was dry. There was a yellow after about 25 minutes as we were leading 1-2 with Aaron and Frankie again, which was phenomenal.

Those guys did a great job in qualifying and during their stints in the race.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

After the yellow, we decided to take full fuel and four tires and it paid off because Aaron was able to get back through the field and hand off our Lexus in what was essentially the lead because the No. 63 Ferrari took a slightly different strategy and they short-filled on fuel the first stop.

It was a much closer race this time between us, the No. 96 BMW and the No. 63 Ferrari. I just tried to control the race and bring home the win. It was very tight and competitive. It felt good to leave Sebring with two wins underneath us.

I believe a big part of our success has been the time and effort everyone involved in this program has put forth.

Our Lexus RC F GT3s have been prepared as well as they possibly can be, and the engineers are looking at every avenue possible to get more out of the setup. We’re all collectively putting in the work and we’re reaping the rewards for that. In racing, winning definitely breeds confidence and confidence is absolutely essential.

You’ve got to believe you can win, you’ve got to believe in your team and the people around you and we certainly are doing that at the moment at AIM Vasser Sullivan. There’s confidence throughout our whole team.

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Confidence also comes from preparation and when you put in the work.

When you feel like you’ve prepared and you feel like you’ve done everything you possibly can you tend to perform better at the race track, and I feel like as a team we’re doing just that.

We’re going to try to carry that confidence into the rest of the season. We know that we’re not going to win every race and there will be some rough days.

The competition is going to be very tough, but we’ve got to keep performing at our best every single weekend and keep improving. If we do that, we’ve got the personnel to be right up there every weekend when it counts.

While we haven’t had much downtime since the restart of the IMSA season, the off weeks have been unique in not going back and forth between home in the UK and the US.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

I’ve been spending most of my time in Charlotte when I’m not traveling to races. A few drivers are in the same situation as me with not being able to go back home with everything currently going on.

I’m very fortunate in Charlotte that TRD has a facility and Lexus has a training center so I can go to the gym every day and train and prepare myself physically for each race. I’ve really been trying to make the most of the situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would be nice to go home, but at the same time if I’m out here I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve been using the time in between the races to prepare myself as best I can, stay well rested and stay focused and be as prepared as possible for the next race.

The way I look at it, is if I’m out here then I better be all in on it because it is a big sacrifice being away from my family and friends. It’s a long way from home.

I’m making sure that I’m ready each weekend to give the best performance that I can for AIM Vasser Sullivan and for Lexus.

Photo: Lexus

We’re in the middle of the season with a race every other week so there isn’t a lot of turnaround time. There isn’t a lot of time to do anything other than prepare properly for the next event, so it’s been all business for me since arriving in the states in June.

I’m excited to get to Road America and keep the ball rolling. I enjoy racing at Road America. It’s a super famous and old school circuit and it’s the longest track we go to.

Our Lexus has handled well there in the past.

One of the issues we have had there in previous years is tire degradation. That’s something we’ve worked on over the course of this year and I think we’re in better shape to deal with that now.

I think if we can keep the tire temperatures and degradation under control it should be a good track for us. In fact, the next two races are probably my two favorite races on the IMSA schedule.

I really enjoy Road America and probably my favorite event in terms of driving the track is VIR. We’ve got two great tracks coming up in August and I’m looking forward to seeing what our team can accomplish.

Jack Hawksworth (@JackHawkRace ‏) drives the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Click to comment

More in Commentary