Lexus PLM winners celebrate, teammates rue DNF that “stinks”

Lexus GTD Pro drivers Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood were able to help the brand celebrate its first IMSA endurance win, but their colleagues were left licking their wounds after being taken off course in a shunt.

Lexus PLM winners celebrate, teammates rue DNF that “stinks”
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Aaron Telitz, Frankie Montecalvo and Richard Heistand were in the running to win the GTD class in the 25th running of Petit Le Mans, when their Lexus RC F was taken out just before the halfway mark of the 10-hour race by the JDC Miller MotorSports Cadillac driven at the time by Loic Duval.

The incident also ended the race for the Prototype which had also been running well in its class.

“It was a pretty disappointing way to end the 2022 season for the #12 car for Vasser Sullivan and Lexus,” said Telitz who had been driving the car at the time of the impact at Turn 5. “I got taken out by a prototype car who made a ridiculous move. We weren’t even halfway through the race. I feel bad for the guys that this is the ending to our season.”

Added Montecalvo: “I feel like if we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all. It just stinks it was the icing on our cake for the year. We’ve all done everything right and we just keep getting caught out in stuff out of our control. I’m glad to see Aaron is alright.

“The team did a phenomenal job! We were up front the entire time we were in the race. Richard had a great start and Aaron was just getting into his stints and running perfect, so it really stinks for the team and for everyone out here that puts so much hard work into it.”

By way of sharp contrast, Hawksworth, Barnicoat and Kirkwood earned the first endurance victory for Lexus in GTD Pro and took the Michelin Endurance Cup – the championship within the championship, that goes to the highest points scorers in IMSA’s four endurance rounds at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

Although Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 crossed the line first in GTD Pro, it was penalized for Daniel Serra exceeding drive time by 11 minutes. It is the 12th IMSA victory for the Lexus RC F but its first in one of the IMSA enduros.

After seeing his car lead the GTD Pro class for 211 of the 385 laps, polesitter Hawksworth said: “Unbelievable… All of the Vasser Sullivan boys just kept fighting all day. Ben, Kyle, myself – we just got after it there.

“To get Lexus their first endurance win – this has been six years in the making. It’s something really special. I’m a bit overwhelmed. Thank you to my teammates, to the whole Vasser Sullivan team and everyone involved. It’s an amazing day.”

Added Barnicoat: “You can see how much this means to everyone here. The whole Lexus family. I joined them a year ago and to be able to do this at my first Petit Le Mans is incredible. I couldn’t have done it without Jack and Kyle and this entire Vasser Sullivan team.”

Kirkwood, 2021 Indy Lights champion and 2022 IndyCar rookie, nonetheless described Petit Le Mans victory as “probably the biggest moment in my racing career. It’s been a long time coming for Lexus and Vasser Sullivan.  It’s a dream come true for us. It’s all due to all the hard work that happens behind the scenes by this Vasser Sullivan team that no one sees. 

“Jack is the one who has been there since Day 1. He’s developed this car and he’s the one that went out there and got that win for us…

“I’ve never seen a team so happy to win and I’m so proud to be a part of it. It’s been three years for me now. We’ve been close so many times and tonight it finally came true for us.”

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