“I can assure both the GTLM and GTD category will be nose to tail this weekend,” said 3GT Racing’s Jack Hawksworth. “The fighting is absolutely on the limit. And I like the fact that all the fans who are coming to Lime Rock are here for the GTs and they specifically enjoy that side of IMSA’s racing.”
For a driver with three Indy 500s to his credit, Hawksworth has plenty of experience of racing in a big stage, which makes his passion for IMSA’s unique GT-only events rather remarkable. A packed house is expected for the Friday-Saturday WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round dedicated solely to production-based machinery, and another is on the way in August at VIR.
Pitting its the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes together for an unabashed celebration of GT excellence has become one of IMSA’s biggest highlights each season where road cars receive all the attention.
And with four GTLM factories represented by BMW, Corvette, Ford, and Ferrari, plus the Pro-Am GTD entries spanning supercars from Acura, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, and Porsche served up as the featured act, the Lime Rock and VIR rounds honor sports car racing’s roots at two of North America’s classic venues.
“It’s something IMSA used to do back in the day when my dad was racing in IMSA with separate events for prototypes and GTs, and it really seemed to work,” said Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner.
“When IMSA picked this up again a few years ago, we felt like GTLM and also GTD were putting on great races, but maybe they were being overshadowed by the coverage with the prototypes. It’s not an easy task for the director to cut between the prototypes and GTs to tell all the stories goin on, so with this GT-only format, the fans get to see us with no distractions at the track and at home on the broadcast.
There are quite a few benefits to racing without IMSA’s DPis and P2s, and even for a veteran and champion like Milner, the fastest class never feels like it’s far away.
“It’s also great for us in GTLM to get to go for the overall win because that’s a big headline for whoever comes away on top,” he added. “It does change your attitude initially a little bit with how you go into the weekend. Maybe it’s because we do so many races with all three classes; it doesn’t change how you race, but it is kind of funny that even with just GTLM and GTD racing together, I still check my mirrors all the time for prototypes because we’re so used to them going by.
“There’s a little bit of strategy that changes without prototypes involved, but there’s still traffic involved, and every driver in each class is getting everything out of their cars, so it’s no easier just because there’s only GT cars on the track.”
For Hawksworth, the view from inside his GTD Lexus RC F is a busy one at Lime Rock, and that’s a positive.
“It’s such a short lap and with the GTLM cars that have more downforce and softer tires, and our cars with less downforce, similar power, but ABS, we can brake deeper, so we can get stuck together rather easily,” he said.
“And with Lime Rock being so small, it feels like there’s always fans to see throughout each lap. Most tracks, you get out to some corners where it’s just you and the track, but with so many fans coming out, they’re with you the whole time as you race. That part’s really great.
“And I like that the fans who are here really know the cars. Maybe they have a Lexus or whatever they drove to the track, and it’s a proper connection between us as the teams and drivers and the people who support the brands we represent.”