Jack Hawksworth believes a “brave” strategy call by AIM Vasser Sullivan was critical for the GT Daytona class win in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
Hawksworth and co-driver Aaron Telitz picked up their third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season in a topsy-turvy race that saw the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 lose the lead early due to a slow right-rear tire change.
Telitz dropped to second in class, behind the class championship-leading No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Matt McMurry, until the second and final round of stops when the AVS team elected to pit Telitz on the assumption of a yellow coming out for the crashed No. 30 Team Hardpoint Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
It proved to be the right call as the No. 14 Lexus was the only GTD car to make it into the pits prior to the yellow being waved with just over one hour to go and put Hawksworth into the class lead.
“It felt like we were on the back foot a bit after the first stop,” Hawksworth explained. “Obviously Aaron did a great job in qualifying to get us out front.
“But then we lost the position on the stop and thought it would be an uphill battle with track position being critical here.
“The team did a fantastic job to pit us before that yellow came out. It was a really big and brave move to make and that’s what ultimately got us the lead of the race there.
“That’s what won us the race. It was awesome to see the team execute such a good strategy.
“I’m just delighted. It’s two in a row for the team [at Mid-Ohio], just fantastic job.”
Sunday’s race came as a huge points day for the team, with the No. 86 MSR Acura of McMurry and Mario Farnbacher finishing fifth after contact with the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3 took them out of contention for the class win.
What had been a 12-point gap entering the weekend has now been reduced to just a three-point deficit between the MSR duo and Telitz heading into the final four races of the GTD season.
Telitz has two more points than Hawksworth courtesy of a higher-placed finish for the team’s No. 12 Lexus which he drove in the six-hour Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta round earlier this month.
“For me with the points, it’s just going to fall where they fall,” Telitz said. “We’re just trying to maximize every weekend and I think the team did such a great job this weekend.
“We’re closer. I think Lexus is leading the manufacturer points overall, so that’s important too.
“We’re just going to keep executing each race and how the points fall, they will fall.”