Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth praised AIM Vasser Sullivan’s pitstop strategy with the team’s fourth win of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the Lexus RC Fs.
Telitz, starting from pole at Mid-Ohio’s beautiful undulating 2.258-mile track, burst into a comfortable lead ahead of the Acura NSXs of Meyer Shank Racing. However, when the broken and stranded Turner Motorsports BMW needed rescuing, thereby bringing out the caution flag, everyone headed for pitlane.
A slight delay in the #14 Lexus’s stop saw Telitz emerge from the behind the #86 MSR Acura of Matt McMurry. This was a crucial battle as, McMurry and co-driver Mario Farnbacher are locked in a championship fight with Telitz.
Following the restart, McMurry and Telitz swiftly dropped all pursuers and enjoyed an intense battle, seemingly never more than one second apart.
When another GTD clash ended with the Hardpoint Audi R8 coming to a halt at Turn 6 and a tire-wall needing rebuilding, AIM Vasser Sullivan jumped on the chance to bring Telitz into the pits before pitlane closed, but MSR did not pit McMurry. This was to prove crucial.
The #14 Lexus, now with Hawksworth at the wheel, took the class lead while Farnbacher would have to come up from third. This led to huge setback when the NSX was bashed several times during Paul Holton’s overly defensive efforts in the Compass Racing McLaren. A subsequent puncture put Farnbacher in the sandtrap, although he recovered to claim fifth.
The result leaves McMurry/Farnbacher just three points ahead of Telitz and five ahead of Hawksworth (Telitz and Hawksworth have raced different Lexuses in endurance races).
“The big difference for us today was that strategy call,” said Telitz. “I was told to pit as I was coming down the hill to pit-in, basically.
“I just tossed it into pit lane, and I didn’t have anything undone. The stop was slow, the driver change was not great, but it didn’t matter in the end. Jack got it done. The AIM Vasser Sullivan team did such a great job this weekend.”
Describing the second half of his double-stint, while chasing McMurry’s #86 Acura, Telitz said: “With traffic, a couple times I’d get some good runs on them, but to be honest they just seemed to have a little bit of a faster car than us. It was going to be tough to get around them on the racetrack. Mid-Ohio is tough track to pass at unless you’ve got quite a bit more speed on the other car; I just couldn’t get it done. The only way we were going to get back to the front was a strategy call and that’s what happened for us.”
Hawksworth, for whom this was a second straight win at Mid-Ohio, “It was a perfect day! Three in a row for the Lexus RC F at Mid-Ohio. This place certainly suits our car.
“Today everything went perfect. Aaron put that great lap in to get the pole and controlled the opening stint of the race. We had a little problem at the stop, and they were able to jump us, but we had an unbelievable call from the AIM Vasser Sullivan guys to pit just before the caution came out. That was a big risk and a big decision.
“We stood up and made it and we got in and got out before the pit lane closed and that got us back into the lead. From there, for me, it was just about keeping the tires clean. There are so many marbles out there. On the restarts, it was like you were on ice.”
Lexus currently leads the overall GTD manufacturer championship point standings.
Damage to the #12 Lexus on the opening lap left that car struggling to make up time after extra stops to repair bodywork damage. Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo would eventually roll home in 10th.
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