Lexus concluded North America’s most prestigious endurance racing championship with victory in last weekend’s Petit Le Mans. The event was hosted at the highly regarded Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta facility in Georgia, USA, and marked the season finale of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This success in the GTD Pro class represented the 12th race win for the Lexus RC F GT3 in its ongoing IMSA campaign and the first overall championship victory for Lexus Racing with the Vasser Sullivan team.
2022 Petit Le Mans: race review
Vasser Sullivan ran two Lexus RC F GT3 models in the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The #12 car was driven by Aaron Telitz, Frankie Montecalvo and Richard Heistand, and competed in the GT Daytona (GTD) class for cars enhanced with GT3 specifications. Meanwhile, the #14 car driven by Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood was prepared to full FIA GT3 technical regulations and therefore competed in the higher GTD Pro class.
British driver Hawksworth (above) started the Petit Le Mans race from pole, and with well-judged changeovers the #14 RC F GT3 ran among the leaders throughout the entire ten-hour endurance event. The combined efforts of the trio contributed to the Vasser Sullivan team leading the field for 211 of the 386 laps – a new class record on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile Georgia road course. It wasn’t an easy win, of course. A particular highlight was the intense battle that Hawksworth enjoyed with Porsche and Ferrari in the closing moments of the event.
Commenting on the outcome, Hawksworth said: “Unbelievable! It was an absolute fight out there today. To get Lexus its first endurance win 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 [been] an amazing day.”
In the GTD class, the #12 RC F GT3 started the race in fifth position and ran among the top five for the majority of its time on track and leading the class for 15 laps. Unfortunately, while running in second, the Lexus was taken out of contention for a podium finish in the fourth hour. A top-tier prototype racer aggressively made contact with Telitz, resulting in the Lexus making hard contact with the tyre barrier. Despite this setback, the #12 car soldiered on and eventually finished 13th in class.
Looking back at the race philosophically, Telitz commented: “It was a pretty disappointing day [but]… we’ll reset and recuperate over the winter and get ready to come back swinging in 2023.”
How did the 2022 season conclude?
Lexus and Vasser Sullivan combined to earn three GT wins in the 2022 season, nine podium results and four pole positions. Among these, Hawksworth and Barnicoat scored the first GTD Pro win for Lexus earlier this season at Road America.
The Petit Le Mans race concluded the 2022 race season. Lexus finished second in the GTD Pro manufacturer’s championship, and the Vasser Sullivan #14 Lexus team finished second in the IMSA GTD Pro championship.
When will next year’s IMSA season begin?
The 2023 season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins on Saturday 28 January. The first race is the Rolex 24, which will be hosted at Daytona International Speedway, Florida, USA. Enthusiasts from all over the world can follow next season’s racing action by following Lexus Racing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by using #LexusRCFGT3, #LexusPerformance and #LexusRacing.
All information is correct at the time of publishing.