The Lexus Long Beach GTD PRO victory in 3, 2, 1...

Gavin Baker/Lumen

The Lexus Long Beach GTD PRO victory in 3, 2, 1...

IMSA

The Lexus Long Beach GTD PRO victory in 3, 2, 1...

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With three consecutive podiums in GTD PRO, the Vasser Sullivan Lexus team has put forth a good start to the season and is perhaps looking at its best opportunity to win a championship.

Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth finished third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, second at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and finally victory at Long Beach to take the championship lead.

Progression is a theme with the pair, as last year Hawksworth and Barnicoat were second at Long Beach. Now the question for them and the rest of the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 squad is whether that theme can continue, because where did they finish last year’s GTD PRO championship? Second for the team, and second for Barnicoat after he had to do several races without Hawksworth due to an injury.

“The numbers are important,” said Hawksworth. “Especially coming to Daytona and Sebring when there’s extra cars, you want to come out of there with two solid finishes. So that really was the kind of mindset going into this year, we want to be consistent, we want to be up there. We’re just approaching each session trying to maximize it. Today we had a car to win and we won. So we’ll just keep keep chipping away at it. We’re focused on the big picture this year, and have had three good races and solid stuff there.”

Hawksworth called the Long Beach victory on of the best-executed races he’s been involved with; the No. 14 had the lead for the entire race. The latest victory builds not only on the generally solid results from last season, but victory in two of the final three races of 2022, including Motul Petit Le Mans. Really the only trouble in today’s race for the team came from lapped cars that they weren’t racing with.

“It wasn’t wasn’t pleasant, to be honest,” explained Barnicoat. “I had the No. 77 car, the Porsche, holding me up for a little while then cleared him – his pace wasn’t too bad. Then the No. 79 WeatherTech car was definitely not friendly with us. Made it pretty difficult with some quite questionable tactics, but I managed to get by him in the end. Had it not been for that it would have been plain sailing.

“The team did an amazing job all weekend. I think they really gave us an incredible package to go and achieve this result, the first Long Beach win for the entire organization — Jack, myself, the team. The pit stop and the strategy was perfect; I had such a nice gap when I came out of the pits, those guys just handed it to me when I needed it.”

The next stop for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where Barnicoat and Hawksworth finished second last year…

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