AIM Vasser Sullivan is not expecting to encounter issues with border crossings between Canada and the U.S. for the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season according to team co-owner Ian Willis, who has helped establish new precautionary measures and contingency plans for the two-car Lexus RC F GT3 operation.
The Ontario-based team, with about 55 percent of Canadian nationals, plans to commute between races thanks to IMSA’s agreement with U.S. government agencies that have placed foreign drivers and crew on an exemption list for essential travel.
It’s understood the exemption supersedes the current border closure between the two neighboring countries that has impacted fellow GT Daytona squad Pfaff Motorsports’ participation.
“First and foremost, I think IMSA has done a really good job working with the Department of Homeland Security and the border patrol,” Willis told Sportscar365.
“What they’ve done and how they’ve implemented it will allow us to get into the U.S., and under the recommendation of quarantining.
“There are people that commute [between Canada and the U.S.] either daily or weekly or in our case bi-weekly, with with our schedule, and that’s the determination of what is currently called essential travel.
“Certainly at the start of the pandemic the obvious essential categories were infrastructure and and health.
“For professional sports now that’s starting to open up yeah and falling under this category, in what I like to call approved travel.
“IMSA paved the way for us to do that.
“Returning to Canada is probably the biggest question mark because our quarantine rules are much stricter. But again people who are in that category of traveling regularly for work do not have to quarantine.”
Willis said they have contingency plans in place should their crew be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Canada, as is currently required for most travel purposes.
“If for some reason at the border they determine that we need to quarantine, we’ll just deal with that at that time and there is an appeal process,” he said.
“We’ve been given guidance by Canadian border services that if we’re traveling regularly for work and our work is an approved trans-border work, which IMSA has paved the way for with the Department of Homeland Security, then we should not have to quarantine unless somebody is showing symptoms.”
Prior to IMSA’s deal with the DHS, Willis said he devised a plan where the team would hire additional U.S.-based crew to work the IMSA weekends and instead keep its Canadian staff back at its shop.
“Then the Canadian group would do the turnaround of the cars and the trucks would travel back and forth,” he said. “The trucks are not limited; they are considered an essential service so our transporters are not limited on crossing back and forth.
“I’m glad that we don’t foresee there’s a need to do that because it would be very cost prohibitive.
“Our partners and stakeholders are committed to running the season with two cars and we want to do everything possible to be able to do that.”
Willis said they’ve already sorted out logistics on the driver front as well, with Jack Hawksworth having arrived into the U.S. on Thursday ahead of a recommended 14-day quarantine.
The Englishman is expected to stay in the country for the duration of the summer.
A Florida executive order requiring arrivals from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana to quarantine for 14 days initially cast questions on Frankie Montecalvo’s participation for Daytona and Sebring, although Willis said the New Jersey native, who holds a busy full-time job at his family’s recycling plant, has a plan organized to ensure he gets into the state safely.
AVS to “Compartmentalize” into Two Single-Car Teams
The Lexus squad will have a slightly different look to it when it returns to action at Daytona as Willis said they are working to “compartmentalize” the Nos. 12 and 14 crews in order to minimize any potential COVID-19 transmission.
“That’s that’s another big challenge for the IMSA teams in particular is that a lot of them run a single team with two cars,” Willis explained.
“But when you look at a quarantine protocol and trying to limit any outbreaks, you’re really better off compartmentalizing by car. That’s that’s what we’re going to be doing.
“The way our transporters are set up and everything is really set up to run as a single team of two cars as opposed to two one-car teams.
“We’re in a process of trying to organize that and rearrange the trailers as much as we can and try and get crew lockers sorted out so there’s more spacing It’s a lot of the little details; that’s what takes the time.
“Looking at it for us, what made the most sense was dividing it into two single-car teams to prevent any cross-contamination from cars.
“So in an absolute worst-case scenario, only one car would be affected, not both.
“We’re taking all the precautions going in and looking at having people tested [for coronavirus]; not that it’s any guarantee, but just trying to take as many precautions and do as much due diligence as possible.”