AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Claims Second-Place Finish in Grueling 24-Hour Event
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2019) – Lexus and newly formed race team AIM VASSER SULLIVAN (AVS) opened the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season this weekend with top-five finishes for both Lexus RC F GT3s, including a second-place podium result for the AVS No. 12 Lexus.
The podium finish by AVS drivers Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo, Jeff Segal and Aaron Telitz in the team’s inaugural IMSA event marked the best finish in an endurance race for the RC F GT3 since joining IMSA’s GTD class in 2017.
The No. 1 4 Lexus RC F GT3 finished fifth in the grueling 24-hour event, which had two red flag periods and multiple cautions due to heavy rain on the track. Co-drivers in the No. 14 Lexus included Nick Cassidy, Austin Cindric, Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand.
The AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3s combined to lead a total of 53 laps during the 24-hour race with the No. 12 leading 31 laps and the No. 14 Lexus led 22 circuits around Daytona International Speedway’s road course. Bell led 22 of the laps, while Cassidy (nine laps), Segal (nine), Hawksworth (eight) and Cindric (five) also paced the GTD class during the Rolex 24.
The Lexus RC F GT3 will return to racing action on March 16 in the Twelve Hours of Sebring at Florida’s historic Sebring International Raceway.
To stay up-to-date on all of the Lexus Racing action follow @lexusracingusa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.lexus.com/motorsports.
AIM Vasser Sullivan Driver Quotes
TOWNSEND BELL, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
What does it mean to this race team to earn a podium in the Rolex 24 today?
“I’m just super proud. It was July of last year and I was sitting on a dock in Marina del Rey with Jimmy Vasser talking about life. To think that at that time he mentioned the possibility of this program and we talked a lot about who Jimmy and (James) Sulli (Sullivan) would partner with and really pushed for AIM and then it came together and the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN thing happened. Just crazy, that was only six months ago and now we’re sitting here at Daytona with two cars that finished the race strongly. One on the podium and one in the fifth position was an incredible celebration of effort and dedication and precision and I think those are the three hallmarks of AIM VASSER SULLIVAN right there.”
FRANKIE MONTECALVO, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
What does it mean to earn a podium finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the Lexus RC F GT3?
“I can’t thank the team enough. This comes down to how much the team has done in such a short period of time. We came out here less than 90 days ago, the team got the Lexus race cars, and to come out here and get a podium with this team really just shows how much this family of guys have put together. It’s a very emotional moment for the guys. We were a lap down. Jeff (Segal) and all of the others drivers did a phenomenal drive in the changing conditions. It was some of the worst conditions I’ve seen under pace car. Cars were spinning all over the place. Really, hats off to all of the drivers and the team for getting this one.”
JEFF SEGAL, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
How were you able to come back and get on the podium today at the Rolex 24 with AIM VASSER SULLIVAN?
“This was truly a team effort. We had some knocks earlier in the race. Really, it was just bad luck. Nothing other than needing to refuel the car when the yellow came out at just the wrong time and we ended up losing a lap and it went from there and spiraled into two laps. But, everybody put their head down and nobody gave up. This AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team called some great strategy and got us back on the lead lap and then the rain started coming down. It was a little bit of a crapshoot because we’ve never used this car in the rain. Low and behold, it does pretty well. The RC F GT3 suited us. On the restarts there took a lot of big chances and had no idea we would be red flagged here. I’m very happy that we were in that position but I think the car was really fast and it was really working well in those conditions. A big credit to this team to this team to get two cars home in top positions like this on the first time out.”
AARON TELITZ, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
How does it feel to earn a podium finish at the Rolex 24 in your first sports car race?
“Obviously what an awesome job this AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team did here at the 24 Hours of Daytona. They gave us a really fast Lexus RC F GT3 car. For me, in my first ever sports car race to end on the podium – what a feeling. We had a shot at the win. I can’t say enough about all of my teammates too. Frankie (Montecalvo), Townsend (Bell), Jeff (Segal) especially here in the end in the rain just laying it down. It was an awesome race and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
How was your race in the Lexus RC F GT3?
“It was an interesting 24 hours. We had a few issues early on, just strategically, but then kind of got running in the beginning and the car was good. We were pretty quick. We were running top-five for the majority of the race. The guys did a good job with the pit stops. Cars were reliable and everything was running quite smoothly. We had some issues in the middle of the race and then issues with drive times, which kind of really compromised us strategically. And then the rain came and that kind of mixed things about again and it was so wet, you know we’d do three laps – caution – three laps – caution so kind of a little bit of a crap shoot there at the end. Overall, it was a pretty positive first race. There’s definitely some stuff to work on. The car was quick. I had some good stints. With how fast the car was early in the race, you don’t get many chances to win this race, so it would have been nice really to have actually had a shot there at the end.”
NICK CASSIDY, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
What was your experience like racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the first time?
“I really enjoyed the actual race. I think the event is really cool, and it was nice to be able come and do it. The end result, there’s no hiding, I’m disappointed with it. We could have had a really good result and it’s annoying to lose it by something that we control.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
How does the Lexus RC F GT3 compare to other GT3 cars you’ve driven during your young career?
“I’ve driven three or four different iterations of GT3 cars. The Lexus RC F, I think the main quality and why I’m so jealous that Mosport isn’t on the endurance schedule is because of the high speed stability. I think we make up the majority of our sector times in the bus stop just because the car is so competitive over high speed stability and over the bumps. Obviously that’s a huge chunk of lap time here, which is why I think we’re so competitive. There’s pros and cons to having a front engine car. One of the pros is obviously that stability and the weight distribution and some of the cons is you do go through your tires a little more but then again a cold night and you are able to generate heat in the tires a lot sooner and be much more competitive on restarts than the cars in your class.”