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Hawksworth: Four-Way GTD Pro Scrap “Absolutely Wild”

Jack Hawksworth talks about “mad” conclusion to GTD Pro battle at Petit Le Mans…

Image: IMSA

Jack Hawksworth said the four-car battle for the class lead in GTD Pro in the closing hour of Saturday’s 25th running of Motul Petit Le Mans was “absolutely wild.”

Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood secured a landmark victory for Vasser Sullivan and Lexus during the ten-hour enduro, initially crossing the line second but getting promoted to first after a drive time infringement for the class-winning Ferrari.

Part of the route to victory for the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 included a spectacular, four-way battle for the race lead with less than 30 minutes remaining that included Hawksworth, Connor De Phillippi, Daniel Serra and Mathieu Jaminet.

The whole last 40 minutes was mad,” said Hawksworth. “We were racing the No. 9 car and they just nipped out in front of us.

“I was able to get back by him in Turn 7, but we had a bit of contact. The yellow obviously came out directly after that.”

Following the caution triggered by the collision between Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Earl Bamber and Renger van der Zande, the battle continued when Jaminet’s Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R attempted to pass the Lexus at Turn 10.

The two drivers made repeated contact, which allowed both the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M4 GT3 of De Phillippi and Serra’s No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to close up and engage in a tight battle through Turns 11 and 12.

“He rear-ended me pretty hard on a couple of occasions,” Hawksworth said of Jaminet.  “I don’t know how many times I had contact in that last 30 minutes.

“Somehow the car stayed together. Unbelievable, just an amazing day for the whole team.

“Lexus, we’ve been at this for a long time. It had always been the aim to win the endurance races, the long distance races.

“I just could not be happier for everybody in the program and all the hard work.”

Barnicoat, for his part, hailed the importance of the victory for the Lexus GT3 program.

“I joined this team a year ago pretty much to the day,” he noted. “I came here and met all the guys for the first time at Petit Le Mans in 2021. 

“There was one clear goal when I signed my contract and that was to come and win big races like this.

“That’s what we dreamed of and it’s very hard to do, especially in GTD Pro. Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette all backing it pretty heavily.

“I think what we achieved today, all three of us, everyone in the Vasser Sullivan crew and Lexus is a testament to many years of hard work.

“I’m just very proud I was on the team for the first win and especially now looking forward to what’s coming ahead.

“It’s very exciting times in the near future for Lexus. What better motivation than what we just did.”

Class Split Situation “Something IMSA Needs To Look At”

As part of the GTD Pro pack, the No. 14 Lexus was embroiled in the wave-by procedure during the fourth caution of the race that gave cars in between the then-leading No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 and the No. 14 Lexus a lap lead over the majority of the GTD Pro runners by virtue of the BMW’s position.

As a result, the top five in GTD finished ahead of the top contenders in GTD Pro, while the running order had been largely mixed up until that point.

Hawksworth stated that the wave-by procedure for the GTD and GTD Pro categories should be be revised for next year.

“I think it is [something] that the series probably needs to look at,” he said. “It should just be a GT pass-around, but I’m sure that that’s probably something they’ll do.

“Having a GTD Pro-only pass-around and a GTD-only pass-around just makes the race confusing and difficult to follow.

“We pit together all the time, we qualify together, we do everything together.

“So it just doesn’t make any sense to have a separate split pass-around. Hopefully they’ll sort that.”

Hawksworth’s co-driver Kirkwood took his suggestion for future improvements in a different direction.

“It could be good to potentially merge all the points together and you have your separate classes for the lineups that the teams want to run,” he added.

“I think that could be a bit similar to how they run it in Europe with certain series there.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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