Jack Hawksworth felt like he had a “parachute coming out of the back of the car” in the closing stages of Friday’s WeatherTech 240 at The Glen after sustaining nose damage to his eventual GT Daytona class-winning Lexus RC F GT3.
Hawksworth and co-driver Aaron Telitz led a 1-2 sweep for Vasser Sullivan Racing, marking the team’s first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season and first since its off-season restructuring.
While having started eighth in class after qualifying on wet weather Michelin tires, Telitz moved up to fourth before the driver change and further charge up the leaderboard following a 45-minute red flag for lightning in the area.
Hawksworth’s move into the lead on the final restart came despite the car’s left-front panel below the headlight having come dislodged, which caused a top-speed deficit.
“I think we had a little bit of contact earlier in the race with a LMP2 car that got into Aaron,” Hawksworth explained. “We had a weak point on the car from that point on and I guess it just fell off coming onto the first lap [on the first restart from the red].
“The race was a roller-coaster of emotions… We had that damage. At one point I thought we were going to be done. And to win the race was amazing.”
When asked how the car was handling with the damage, Hawksworth said it was only at the top speed portions of the track that were causing challenges.
“Even with a bit of damage, the car was handling perfect and I was able to stay out of range of the car behind me,” he said.
“It felt like it was a parachute coming out of the back of the car compared to practice.
“We lost some time on the straights but this car works really well at this track.
“All the work we put in this year to get the most out of the car, I was able to use our cornering speed to maintain a little bit of a gap and that got me out of the danger zone every time going into the Bus Stop.”
He added: “We have a massive sense of relief and just really happy for everyone that’s involved with the program. From Vasser Sullivan to everyone at Lexus — so much work and effort goes into this.
“We’ve been so competitive this season on so many occasions but it’s just not worked out. Sometimes [it’s] been self-inflicted but many times it’s been out of our control.
“But finally today we got the victory and a 1-2 to go with it. I’m happy for the team and Lexus, Aaron and myself. A lot of work has gone into it.”