NEWLY FORMED TEAM AIM AUTOSPORT(CANADIAN BASED) WITH VASSER SULLIVAN HAS GREAT DEBUT IN IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP GTD CLASS
The no. 12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3 driven by Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo, Jeff Segal and Aaron Telitz was in contention for the win until two hours remaining.
They had qualified 14th but started the race 13th. Early on, they managed to make up five places(Montecalvo was at the wheel) and even lead the GTD class when Bell had taken over driving duties. Then, a full course yellow disturbed their strategy. At the time, Aaron Telitz was behind the wheel and the team decided to bring the car in for an emergency fuel stop. The pits being closed, they then received a drive through penalty. That brought them one lap down in the leaders and eventually two laps down for most of the race until eight hours remaining.
The no. 12 made it back on the lead lap and with heavy rain, a succession of green and yellow flags, Jeff Segal had led six laps. Until they were back in third due to conditions that were out of their control. Shortly after, the red flag halted the race with two hours to go. The race was unfortunately not restarted.
Townsend Bell reflecting on the Rolex 24: “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 sharing a couple of beers, 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 sixth position was an incredible celebration of effort and dedication and precision and I think those are the three hallmarks of AVS right there.”
For Franck Montecalvo, it is all about the team: “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.”
“This was truly a team effort. We had some knocks earlier in the race. Really, it was just bad luck. Nothing other than that”, said Jeff Segal. This AVS 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”, he continued. “Low and behold it does pretty well. The RC F GT3 suited us. On the restarts they took a lot of big chances and had no idea we would be red flagged here. So, 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 get two cars home in top positions like this on the first time out.”
For Aaron Telitz, his first time at the Rolex 24 was quite an experience. “Obviously what an awesome job this AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team did here at the Rolex 24 Hours At 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.”
As for the no. 14 car (of drivers Jack Hawksworth, Nick Cassidy, Austin Cindric and Richard Heistand), having started in 11th place, they had the pace but things did not work out the way they wanted. They ended the race in sixth place.
Jack Hawksworth driving the no. 14: “It was an interesting 24 hours. We had a few issues early on, just strategically, but then got running and the car was good. We were pretty quick. We were running in the 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. Overall, it was a pretty positive first race”.
Hawksworth’s teammate Nick Cassidy: “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 because we could have had a really good result and it’s annoying to lose it by something that we control.”
Seen on their Social media, the team is already well into the preparation of the next event to take place at Sebring on March 13-16. They did show good pace throughout the weekend at Daytona. Let’s hope they can carry on at Sebring in what is a very competitive GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Images: PMstills Photography
Photographer & Editor