The Winning GTD Manufacturer in Three of the Last Four Years at the Track Has Taken on Race Naming Rights and Has Two Cars in the Mix This Weekend
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — “It’s such a good track for Lexus that Lexus decided to name the race after itself.”
The words of Aaron Telitz couldn’t ring truer as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the fifth round of the 2022 season. Lexus recently acquired entitlement rights to what is now known as the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio – and with good reason.
The manufacturer collected its first WeatherTech Championship victory at Mid-Ohio in 2018, the first of three consecutive GT Daytona (GTD) wins on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Lexus’ streak was broken last year at the track when Zach Veach and co-driver Frankie Montecalvo finished second in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
“We’ve had lots of success there in the past,” Telitz said Tuesday from his Minnesota home during a Zoom media teleconference. “It’s a great track for the Lexus RC F GT3 car and our Vasser Sullivan team has performed well there in the past. … I know our winning streak ended there last year but we can start it over again this year.”
Telitz, who won at Mid-Ohio in 2020 when he was paired with Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan entry, said the nature of the circuit in the rolling hills of Lexington, Ohio, plays into the strengths of the Lexus.
“The corners are all pretty flowing. There’s not a lot of stop-and-start corners, which is kind of our big issue when we’ve got to accelerate from a really low speed,” he said. “It’s a track that just flows. Every corner just flows into the next one and our weakest where the slowest corners – the Carousel and the Keyhole – are still corners that you’re rolling a lot of speed around. … I think that plays a big part into it.”
Vasser Sullivan and Lexus will have two bullets in the GTD chamber this weekend. The team split its two-car operation for the 2022 season, running one each in GTD (the No. 12 for Telitz and Montecalvo) and the new GTD PRO class (the No. 14 for Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat). Since GTD PRO is not on the program this weekend, the team has entered Hawksworth and Richard Heistand in the No. 17 Lexus in what Telitz termed as a “wingman” car.
“Anytime you can have two cars on the same team, whether we run different strategies each car, you’re just kind of maximizing your chances for a good finish for Lexus,” Telitz said. “It’s to give Lexus the best chance to have a good finish.”
Tickets to attend in person are still available at midohio.com. WeatherTech Championship practices are scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Qualifying streams live at 1:15 p.m. Saturday on IMSA.com/TVLive.
Sunday’s race airs live at 2 p.m. on USA Network and IMSA Radio.