Aaron Telitz says his arrival into AIM Vasser Sullivan is “paying off big time” on the heels of his maiden IMSA victory in the open-wheel-turned sports car rising star’s first start as a full-season driver in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3.
The 28-year-old Wisconsin native, who was initially confirmed for a second year as a part-time driver in the team’s No. 12 Lexus, was drafted in to replace intended full-season Parker Chase in the sister entry alongside Jack Hawksworth.
The new pairing got off to a successful start at Daytona with a dominant class victory in the WeatherTech 240.
For Telitz, the 2016 Pro Mazda champion who has made sporadic starts in recent years since his last full-season gig in Indy Lights in 2018, just having a chance to race full-time has come as a prime opportunity.
“I’ve been aiming towards getting anything full time and race cars for for a few years now,” he said.
“Whether it was going to be in IndyCar or in sports cars, the opportunity to come drive for AIM Vasser Sullivan last year kind of came out of nowhere for me.
“It wasn’t super on my radar but I hopped at the opportunity to do it and now it’s paying off big time. I guess it was just meant to be.”
While having been the team’s third driver in the No. 12 Lexus alongside Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell for the Michelin Endurance Cup races, Telitz said the transition to the sister No. 14 entry hasn’t posed a challenge in any way.
Telitz admitted Hawksworth’s past experience in IndyCar has come as an added benefit.
“Both cars work together but Jack is such an experienced teammate with this Lexus RC F GT3,” he said. “I’ve been able to ask Jack [questions] and he can answer them in a satisfactory way.
“He knows the same [open-wheel] background that I come from so I feel like we’re a great pairing and so far we’ve worked really, really well together.
“Any time I’ve had a question, Jack knows exactly where I’m coming from.
“In terms of some ways we want the the car to feel, Jack and I are most of the time on the same page with that. I think it’s a big help to have teammates that have [similar] backgrounds.
“It’s awesome to be in such a competitive team, being able to go out get a win in our first first run out together, Jack and I in the 14 car.
“That just makes it more fun, obviously. Winning is fun so as long as we keep winning, and even if we’re not winning I think we’re still going to have fun.”
Hawksworth: “Things Are Really Starting to Come Together”
Now in the fourth year of the Lexus program in the WeatherTech Championship, Hawksworth feels they’ve reached a point where they can be regular contenders for class victories.
AVS Autosport’s 1-2 finish at Daytona marked the team’s third victory in GTD competition out of 13 starts, all of them coming with the Englishman.
“This is the second year for the team and it’s obviously Lexus’ fourth year competing in the IMSA GTD championship,” Hawksworth said.
“I think things are really starting to come together.
“We’ve got really strong Silvers in the car; we’ve got experienced drivers in me and Townsend on the Gold side. Coupled that with a little bit of a restructuring of the engineering department this year; we’ve strengthened the whole team.
“As always with racing, it’s about putting all the different pieces together and I think we’re just about there now. It’s up to us to get the job done this year.”
Hawksworth said the switch to Michelin’s Pilot Sport S9 compound for the summertime races has played into the hands of the Lexus, which has traditionally been tough on tires.
“We have a good understanding of our strengths and have worked tirelessly on improving our weaknesses, which rear tire degradation has been an issue for us,” he said.
“But I feel like what we’ve learned about the tire and stuff, we’re in a position where we can cover that. Sebring will be a good test for that.
“We’ve seen differences between the two tires for sure. I believe the S9 suits us a little bit better from a degradation standpoint.
“There’s certainty a difference between Daytona and Sebring; the surface at Sebring is more aggressive and there’s some more high-speed corners so hopefully there won’t be a bit more falloff at that track.”