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TELITZ: A Smooth Transition to No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus

Vasser Sullivan Lexus driver Aaron Telitz files his first Sportscar365 column…

Hello, Sportscar365. It’s been quite a while since I’ve written something that wasn’t an email, weekend report, or track notes! I used to keep up a blog when I was a Team USA Scholarship driver at the request of Jeremy Shaw, but I’m a bit out of practice now so bear with me.

It sounds a bit strange to me to say I’m now into my fourth season, and third full-time season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Vasser Sullivan and Lexus Racing.

It feels amazing to have a bit of stability and to be able to grow with a team and manufacturer.

When I was in junior formula cars, I ended up hopping around from team to team, and from car to car as I moved up the ladder. So, to land in IMSA and be with the same team and manufacturer for four years is a great change of pace for me!

The last couple years I’ve been teamed up with Jack Hawksworth, which has been a serious boost in my learning curve in our Lexus RC F GT3 as he has more experience with it than any other driver in the world. And now after two seasons of growth and learning I’ve been promoted to the lead driver on the 12 GTD car!

It really came full circle as my first race with Vasser Sullivan and Lexus was in the 12 Lexus at Daytona in 2019.

Photo: Phil Abbott/IMSA

It’s been a really smooth transition to the 12 car as I’ve already worked with Frankie Montecalvo in 2019. Townsend [Bell] was a big help at Daytona this year, helping to get me comfortable with being the team leader as well. So now we’re full speed ahead into 2022.

I think one of Vasser Sullivan’s secret weapons is how well all of the drivers get along, work together, and genuinely want to see each other succeed. Jack, Ben Barnicoat, Frankie and I have great team chemistry and we have fun on and off the track.

We all flew out to California early for the Long Beach race to attend a Lexus dealership event in Escondido. It’s always so cool to see how many Lexus enthusiasts come out with their epic Lexus builds and show their support for us.

After the Escondido event we had a couple days to kill before we needed to be in Long Beach, so Kyle Kirkwood took Ben, Jeff Bal, Townsend and myself surfing in San Clemente.

Jack either can’t swim or is scared of sharks and bailed on us. Ben and I had never really been surfing so we spent most of the time floundering around and watching the other two actually surf. We did manage to catch a couple waves and just being out in the ocean was a great way to relax before a race weekend!

Photo: Lexus Racing

Our Long Beach weekend was a story of execution. Our Lexus RC Fs were working great around the streets of Long Beach, but we didn’t quite have the outright pace in qualifying.

However, in the race while other teams were making mistakes and struggling, the Vasser Sullivan guys and girls executed two clean races to get both cars on the podium in GTD and GTD Pro.

It was my first podium at Long Beach and the first podium for Lexus there as well, and a great way to start the Sprint Championship for us. To celebrate, we went surfing the next morning to wear off the celebratory drinks from the night before!

Photo: Supplied

We weren’t done with California yet. On Monday, Townsend organized “Moto Monday” at a motocross track in Temecula. So, Jack, Frankie and I headed out there to get some two-wheel training in!

I had never rode moto before, but by the end of the day even Jack said I looked “competent”, so I’ve got that going for me.

With tired bodies from motocross, we flew up to Monterey on Tuesday for some testing at Laguna Seca. Testing went well and we’re hopeful we can find something that works during the race this weekend as we’ve not historically had success at Laguna Seca.

My California adventure still wasn’t done. After testing Wednesday, I drove up to Sonoma for my first weekend in the Supra GT4 with Smooge Racing and my teammate, Todd Coleman.

We had a really good weekend scoring our first podium in the Supra on Saturday and two top 10s in the Sprint X races! Our accommodations weren’t too bad either.

We stayed at V12 Vineyards which is owned by Jimmy Vasser himself. It was an awesome way to end our California adventure having a glass of wine overlooking the Valley with Jimmy. Looking forward to having more fun and standing on more podiums in 2022.

Thanks for reading.

Photo: Aaron Telitz

Aaron Telitz drives the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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