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“Really Encouraging” Start to GTD Pro Era for Lexus, VS

Jack Hawksworth on strong Rolex 24 at Dayton run; encouraging start to GTD Pro era…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Jack Hawskworth said it was a “really encouraging” start to Vasser Sullivan and Lexus’ GTD Pro campaign with a fourth place class finish in Sunday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Hawksworth and fellow Lexus factory driver Ben Barnicoat teamed with NTT IndyCar Series driver Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut of the GT3-based category.

While fighting for a podium position with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Alessandro Pier Guidi on the final restart, Hawksworth settled for fourth in the end.

“It was good and we’re happy with it,” he told Sportscar365.

“It was an interesting race with the amount of cars, so the amount of attrition was very high compared to years gone by.

“The strategies were a bit different, but overall we were happy with it.”

The only significant setback for the No. 14 Lexus came with a 3 minute and 30-second penalty for an improper wave-by procedure, dropping Barnicoat to seventh, one lap behind at the time.

Hawksworth said it “didn’t take long” for the team to regain the lap, courtesy of a wave-by from a subsequent yellow an hour later.

“In the end the car was pretty battered so we were kind of struggling a bit with the brakes and the floor falling off at the end, but apart from that it was smooth sailing to be honest,” he added.

“The guys did good pit stops and good strategy. Kyle and Ben did a good job, so it was a good race.”

With both the second and third-place finishing cars from Risi and KCMG not expecting to be full-season entries, the result has effectively put Hawksworth and Barnicoat second in the season-long GTD Pro title race.

“It’s really encouraging,” Hawksworth said. “Especially because last year we came here and had a DNF.

“When there are so many cars you lose a lot more points than you would in a normal race: it’s a massive haul, championship-wise.

“So to come out of here with a decent result is great. of course it would have been nice to have held onto the podium, but we’re happy with P4.

“This [race] has always been difficult for us. The endurance races have never been the strong point of this car, so we’re pretty happy to get out of this one with a decent result.”

Barnicoat added: “It was an amazing result and so close to a podium, but P4 is still a great way to start the year even though we all wanted a trophy.

“Some solid points [are] on the board and [it’s] a great way to kick off the season. My first race here and I fit right in with the team.

“To be able to deliver a result like that on my first showing is great and hopefully it’s the start of something good.

“We’ve got a good foundation to build on now heading into the season.”

Campbell: GTD Pro Competition Will Be “Extremely Tough”

Pfaff Motorsports’ Matt Campbell, who teamed with fellow Porsche factory drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr for the first-ever GTD Pro class win on Sunday, said he’s looking forward to the season-long fight.

“We’re extremely excited to be in an effort in IMSA,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve been in the series for quite a number of years now, but obviously [just] the endurance races or one-offs or something like that.

“To finally be in the full-season effort is exciting, especially with Pfaff. It’s a new era with GTD Pro. That’s also something new.

“We’ve been driving together for the last couple years. IMSA is always an our radar. Now to be doing that, starting off the year and season like we did in such a fashion with Mathieu behind the wheel, it’s really great feeling.

“Obviously [we’re] really getting more excited for the remainder of the year as well.

“I think it’s going to be extremely tough. You look at the competition, the teams involved. I think it’s a really good thing for the category.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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