Don’t mistake AIM Vasser Sullivan team owner Jimmy Vasser for someone who would be impressed with the sophomore IMSA program’s record in the hotly-contested GT Daytona class.
The 1996 CART IndyCar Series champion has been in the team ownership game for most of the millennium, and despite the 4-for-14 win tally earned by the AVS Lexus RC F GT3 squad, Vasser is decidedly nonplussed by its recent back-to-back WeatherTech SportsCar Championship wins.
“It sounds a lot better than it feels,” he told RACER leading into Sunday’s race at Road America. “We’ve had real bad races at Laguna Seca where we were just nowhere. Lime Rock, nowhere. Last year, Sebring 12 Hour, nowhere. Embarrassing. What I focus on is the defeats. And we had a couple back to back last year. This year, not all the competition is there. We’re ready for the competition to come back at 100-percent strength and then see where we are.
“The two Acuras, they weren’t there (at the last race), and some of the Lamborghini teams weren’t there. Not to diminish the guys that were there. But all credit to the AVS team. The cars run and they’re not breaking down, so the guys have done a great job in the reliability factor, in the execution. But we always focus on the negatives and how we can make ourselves better.”
The team’s competitive rise has been aided by the signing of open-wheel standout Aaron Telitz, who joined the AVS outfit in 2019 on a part-time basis before being elevated to Jack Hawksworth’s full-time teammate at the beginning of July. With consecutive wins in hand, the Wisconsinite has had a breakout start in GTD, and with the deep engineering talents of Olivier Boisson and Geoff Fickling contributing to the effort, all manner of good things are aligning at the right time.
“This year, we’ve had engineering projects that do make the car better. Olivier, who’s been with us for 15 years, we had him do a damper development program,” Vasser said. “And bringing on Geoff — just trying to bolster the team where we see there is weaknesses.
“There’s still work to be done. We’re lucky to have Jack Hawksworth and now Aaron Telitz, A A-Ron, and continuing with Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo, and a lot of great partners bringing this whole thing together.
“The GTD class to me, it’s the most difficult class in IMSA.”
With the AVS Lexus program continuing to trend in the right direction, growing together with a future move into IMSA’s next-generation prototype class would be a natural evolution of the relationship. But that’s another area where Vasser limits his enthusiasm.
“Right now, there’s no future (beyond) the end of this season,” he said. “We’re hoping to continue in GTD; DPi is not really in our thoughts at this point. I know there’s always rumors of Lexus moving up and all that stuff, but to be honest with you, that’s not really in any of our planning at this point in time.”