Jack Hawksworth says he “didn’t see another GTD car all day” in AIM Vasser Sullivan’s dominant run in the WeatherTech 240 at Daytona.
Hawksworth and co-driver Aaron Telitz led home the Canadian squad’s maiden 1-2 result aboard the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, having stayed out front in the GT Daytona ranks for the duration of the two-hour 40-minute contest.
Telitz battled through tricky wet conditions at the start before handing over to Hawksworth with a healthy advantage, finishing ahead of the sister No. 12 Lexus entry of Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo.
“To be honest Aaron did most of the hard work there in the beginning; the conditions were obviously tricky and it was really important in qualifying to start up the front,” explained Hawksworth.
“Those conditions, drying track on slicks usually suit our car quite well, we were able to generate temperature and Aaron got a good jump and put a nice gap on the field.
“Once I got in at the stops the track was pretty much fully dry at that point, a couple of puddles but nothing really on the racing line.
“So at that point for me, we already had a gap so I just tried to maintain position, maintain the lead, and bring it home.
“The fuel windows were very tight for this race for either a two-stop or a three-stop, so we had to monitor fuel a little bit.
“I didn’t see another GTD car all day so I’m not complaining. The Lexus RC F GT3s were absolutely on rails all day. [I’m] absolutely delighted with the result for everyone involved.”
Bell Recalls “Frightening” Trip to Make Daytona
On the other side of the AVS tent, one of the drivers barely made the race, with Bell pulling double duty between Daytona and NBC Sports IndyCar commentary duties at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bell took a private plane with AVS co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan from Indy on Saturday afternoon to be back at Daytona in time for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.
However, a mid-flight cabin pressurization problem forced them to land in Jacksonville, Fla. before renting a car and driving the remainder of the 1-hour 30-minute journey to Daytona, arriving at the circuit with just minutes to spare.
“Well, frightened is probably accurate because we had an issue in the sky. Anytime the pilot is pulling out the owner’s manual generally not a good sign mid-flight,” Bell said.
“We could tell on takeoff the pressurization was in and out and you could feel your ears plugging up and then releasing and I could hear the pressurization tank at the back of the plane going.
“We had to level off at like 12,000 feet while they worked on it and then they said, ‘we have to go back to Indy’ and I was like, ‘there’s no way after all the effort put into this that I’m missing that race.’
“We came up with a plan to fly low but when you do that you burn fuel so then we didn’t have enough gas so we had this splash and go strategy worked out.
“In the end, they manually pressurized the cabin climbed to 27,000 feet to get better efficiency. It’s the long way of telling you we were determined to be here tonight.
“I’m so glad we did because first 1-2 for AIM Vasser Sullivan and Lexus; what a great feeling.”