Tuesday, January 29, 2019

AIM VASSER SULLIVAN had to overcome torrential rain, 17 caution periods and some bad luck to make its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut a success by putting one Lexus RC F GT3 on the podium and the second placing sixth today in the 57th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


Race Summary No. 12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3:
The No. 12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3, driven by Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo, Jeff Segal and Aaron Telitz in the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona, qualified 14th but started 13th. On the opening lap, Montecalvo, who started the race, picked up three spots to immediately put the team in the top-10. By the end of his two stints he was solidly in the top-five before giving way to Bell. Within five laps of taking the wheel, Bell led the first laps in AIM VASSER SULLIVAN’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut. Bell went on to lead 22 laps before handing over driving duties to young Aaron Telitz, who was making his sports car debut. Telitz held his own showing great promise, however just as he was about to pit for the second time a yellow flag came out closing the pits. Short on fuel the team decided to make an emergency stop for a splash of fuel. The result was they had to make a second full-service stop and also change drivers. They were assessed a “drive through” penalty for pitting when the pits were closed. The end result was the No. 12 car went a lap down (and eventually two down) where, despite their best efforts, they remained until about eight hours left in the 24-hour event. Once back on the lead lap their comeback was hampered by a 3:05 minute yellow flag, which eventually became a red flag delay, due to a torrential downpour. The team’s efforts were further hampered by the mayhem that ensued as a result of the continuous rain, which produced yellow flag after yellow flag as drivers spun, slid off track and crashed into each other. Utilizing a solid strategy and getting outstanding performances from all four drivers, especially Jeff Segal in the rain, the team fought and clawed its way back, eventually retaking the lead (Segal led nine laps), but with conditions out of control dropped to third before a final two-hour red flag mercifully ended the race with the No. 12 AVS car on the podium.

NO. 12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Driver Race Quotes:
Townsend Bell:

“I’m just super proud. It was July of last year and I was sitting on a dock in Marina del Rey with Jimmy Vasser sharing a couple of beers, talking about life. To think that at that time he mentioned the possibility of this program and we talked a lot about who Jimmy and (James) Sulli (Sullivan) would partner with and really pushed for AIM and then it came together and the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN thing happened. Just crazy, that was only six months ago and now we’re sitting here at Daytona with two cars that finished the race strongly. One on the podium and one in the sixth position was an incredible celebration of effort and dedication and precision and I think those are the three hallmarks of AVS right there.”

Frankie Montecalvo:
“I can’t thank the team enough. This comes down to how much the team has done in such a short period of time. We came out here less than 90 days ago, the team got the Lexus race cars, and to come out here and get a podium with this team really just shows how much this family of guys have put together. It’s a very emotional moment for the guys. We were a lap down. Jeff (Segal) and all of the others drivers did a phenomenal drive in the changing conditions. It was some of the worst conditions I’ve seen under pace car. Cars were spinning all over the place. Really, hats off to all of the drivers and the team for getting this one.”

Jeff Segal:

“This was truly a team effort. We had some knocks earlier in the race. Really, it was just bad luck. Nothing other than that. Needing to refuel the car when the yellow came out at just the wrong time and we ended up losing a lap and it went from there and spiraled into two laps. But, everybody put their head down and nobody gave up. This AVS team called some great strategy and got us back on the lead lap and then the rain started coming down. It was a little bit of a crapshoot because we’ve never used this car in the rain. Low and behold it does pretty well. The RC F GT3 suited us. On the restarts they took a lot of big chances and had no idea we would be red flagged here. So, I’m very happy that we were in that position but I think the car was really fast and it was really working well in those conditions. A big credit to this team to get two cars home in top positions like this on the first time out.”

Aaron Telitz:

“Obviously what an awesome job this AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team did here at the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona. They gave us a really fast Lexus RC F GT3 car. For me, in my first ever sports car race to end on the podium what a feeling. We had a shot at the win. I can’t say enough about all of my teammates too. Frankie (Montecalvo), Townsend (Bell), Jeff (Segal) especially here in the end in the rain just laying it down. It was an awesome race and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”


Race Summary No. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3:
The No. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3, driven by Jack Hawksworth, Richard Heistand, Nick Cassidy and Austin Cindric in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, qualified 12th, but started 11th, where they remained for most of the first two stints which were driven by Heistand. They ran in the top-10 or mid-teens for much of the early portion of the race with Cindric, who was the third driver to get behind the wheel, supplying the big push getting them into the top-five and leading five laps. Throughout the contest each driver on the team made a contribution as they methodically and patiently battled with Hawksworth leading eight laps, and Cassidy, a No. 14 car team high nine laps led, also making major contributions. The team ran in the top-five for most of the race and stayed in the top-10 even after pitting. Cassidy notched his laps led before handing the car back to Heistand just prior the delay. Following the delay the team ran the remainder of the race in the top-10 getting as high as third, but had to settle for the sixth place when the second red flag essentially ended the race.

NO. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Driver Race Quotes:
Jack Hawksworth:

“It was an interesting 24 hours. We had a few issues early on, just strategically, but then got running and the car was good. We were pretty quick. We were running in the top-five for the majority of the race. The guys did a good job with the pit stops. Cars were reliable and everything was running quite smoothly. We had some issues in the middle of the race and then issues with drive times, which kind of really compromised us strategically. And then the rain came and that kind of mixed things about again and it was so wet, you know we’d do three laps, caution, three laps, caution so kind of a little bit of a crap shoot there at the end. Overall, it was a pretty positive first race. There’s definitely some stuff to work on. The car was quick. I had some good stints. With how fast the car was early in the race, you don’t get many chances to win this race, so it would have been nice really to have actually had a shot there at the end.”

Nick Cassidy:
“I really enjoyed the actual race. I think the event is really cool, and it was nice to be able come and do it. The end result, there’s no hiding I’m disappointed because we could have had a really good result and it’s annoying to lose it by something that we control.”