Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Heistand, Hawksworth Victorious in Detroit

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

DETROIT — AIM Vasser Sullivan is currently ticking off all the right boxes, especially for their No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 entry as Richard Heistand and Jack Hawksworth were victorious in the GT Daytona class for the second race in a row in the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

While the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic did not count for the overall GTD points battle, it did for the newly-created WeatherTech Sprint Cup for all non-endurance races on the calendar. Since Heistand and Hawksworth were victorious at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early May, they extended their Sprint Cup lead over the rest of the field. To get to victory lane though, meant taking advantage of others’ mistakes.

Hawksworth took over for Heistand at their only pit stop and went from fourth to third after the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 had a lengthy pit stop with a problem with the left rear tire. After getting past the No. 57 MSR Acura on the restart for second place, Hawksworth stalked Patrick Long in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 for the next couple of laps and managed to get the lead on Lap 27, holding the lead for the rest of the way.

Late in the race, there was a threat of rain which ended up delaying the start of the NTT IndyCar Series race on Saturday afternoon. Heistand was confident in his co-driver’s abilities behind the wheel in case any noticeable rain did show up.

“I wasn’t worried at all,” said Heistand.

“Jack is a tough, stubborn Northern-Englander and if it started to rain, he’d figure out a way. He’s got the experience and he’s just too stubborn to probably make a mistake so I felt good about it but it would’ve been exciting. I think it would’ve been scarier if we still needed to do a pit stop and we could get jumped in the pits.”

Hawksworth provided his own thoughts on the situation.

“I was worried about it coming because we were leading the race and the last thing that you want when you’re leading is changing conditions,” said Hawksworth.

“But fortunately it didn’t come, the only time it came actually was the last two corners of the race and then suddenly it was raining. So I obviously took it steady for the last two corners but we had two corners of rain all race and that was it so it wasn’t a big deal.”

This is Lexus’s second win of 2019 but the team has yet to check off winning an endurance race from their to-do list. The team has an opportunity later in June at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

“I still feel like we’ve got something to prove in the long races, to be honest,” said Heistand.

“We have not historically, frankly, done well in the endurance races. So I think it give us confidence going in knowing that we can do the job, but at the same time we need to realize that we have not had success in a long race yet and go there with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove.”

Since this race did not count for the overall GTD points battle, both Lexus entries remain second and third in the overall points championship battle with Townsend Bell and Frank Montecalvo’s performances at Daytona and Sebring elevating them over their teammates in the overall standings. Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher still lead overall in the No. 86 Acura.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen is June 27th-30th with the race starting on Sunday June 30th at 9:45 a.m. ET.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.