Lexus and AIM VASSER SULLIVAN (AVS) return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway for the second season together campaigning two Lexus RC F GT3 entries in the GTD class. The season-opening endurance event features four racers competing in each Lexus entry during the 24-hour period.
AIM VASSER SULLIVAN experienced a successful inaugural season competing in IMSA’s GTD class with two wins and five podium finishes in 2019. The No. 12 Lexus finished with a runner-up podium result in the team’s first race together at the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona, while the No. 14 RC F GT3 finished fifth in class last year.
Four full-season drivers are set to compete in 12 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races for AIM VASSER SULLIVAN this season. Jack Hawksworth and Parker Chase will team up in the No. 14 Lexus, while Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo will co-drive the No. 12 RC F GT3. It marks the fourth season behind the wheel of the Lexus RC F GT3 for Hawksworth, who won two IMSA GTD races in 2019, while Chase returns after making his first start with AVS at Road Atlanta in October. Bell, the 2014 Rolex 24 GTD class winner, and Montecalvo partner together for a second season after earning three podium results last year, including a runner-up in the team’s first event last year, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Four endurance racers will join the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN full-time driver lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, split between the two RC F GT3s. Hawksworth and Chase are joined by two-time NASCAR Cup Champion Kyle Busch and 20-year-old Michael de Quesada in the No. 14 Lexus in Daytona. Busch has amassed 208 wins across the three NASCAR national series, including 56 Cup Series victories. The NASCAR champion first piloted the Lexus RC F GT3 at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month. De Quesada will make his second Rolex 24 start after winning in the GTD class during his first Rolex 24 start in 2017.
Bell and Montecalvo are joined in Daytona once again by Aaron Telitz and newcomer Shane van Gisbergen. Telitz was part of the team’s runner-up finish last year in Daytona and is a three-time race winner in the Indy Lights series. Van Gisbergen might be new to AVS, however he’s a well-accomplished V8 Supercar driver, having won the 2016 championship and finished runner-up in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
The Lexus RC F GT3 will make its fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona appearance during this weekend’s 24-hour event. Along with last year’s runner-up podium result, Lexus experienced quite a bit of past success at Daytona International Speedway with three consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona race wins from 2006 to 2008 when Lexus-powered Prototypes previously raced in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series from 2004 to 2009.
AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Driver Quotes
JACK HAWKSWORTH, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
How do you approach this year’s Rolex 24 with a new set of driving partners this year?
“We had a solid few days at the Roar. We have a lot of new drivers who had never driven the car before, with Kyle (Busch) and Michael (de Quesada), and then Parker (Chase) with very little experience behind the wheel of our Lexus. Getting those guys a lot of laps, a lot of time and comfortable has been good. We aren’t sure yet where we are pace-wise for the race, but I think we’ll be okay. We will just try to look at the data from the Roar and come up with the best car setup that we can for the race and hopefully that puts us in contention to get a podium result.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Are you looking forward to your first Rolex 24 experience behind the wheel of the Lexus RC F GT3?
“The opportunity presented itself to come to Daytona and have some fun in the Lexus and participate in the Daytona Rolex 24, so I’m looking forward to it. Everyone at AIM VASSER SULLIVAN has done a great job welcoming me in and making feel like part of the team. Jack (Hawksworth) and my other teammates have done a fantastic job of helping me out and getting me up to speed and accustomed to what this form of racing is and what it entails. You want to be able to come out here and win this thing. Being able to come down here for the Rolex 24 is about having fun, but also doing a good job for these guys at AIM VASSER SULLIVAN and coming out of here with a watch. There’s a lot on the line so hopefully we can get it done.”
PARKER CHASE, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
What is the key to a successful Rolex 24 for AIM VASSER SULLIVAN?
“We had good pace with our Lexus RC F GT3 at the Roar and I think we will have a competitive car for the Rolex 24. Last year AIM VASSER SULLIVAN finished second at the Rolex 24, so I think we have some high expectations to meet and hopefully we can improve by one position. It’s all about just not crashing and keeping the car in one piece until the last hour of the race. We have a good lineup, so I think we’ll be strong.”
MICHAEL DE QUESADA, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Are you looking forward to being back at the Rolex 24 this year?
“I’m extremely excited to be a part of AIM VASSER SULLIVAN for this year’s Rolex 24. I had never driven anything but a Porsche before I came here for the test, and this Lexus has proven to be incredible for me. I think we have a really competitive team. I have great teammates and a super professional team, and the sky is the limit for us.”
TOWNSEND BELL, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
How much confidence do you have coming into the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the team’s second IMSA season?
“It’s exciting to come back with AIM VASSER SULLIVAN and Lexus with a full year under our belt. The Roar was a really nice reminder of how much progress we’ve made as a team. Everything was very organized at the test and everybody seemed to work well together despite a bunch of new faces on the team. It seems like things are gelling well. As a group and as an organization, I’m really proud of the year over year progress we’ve made. I feel well prepared for the Rolex 24 and we’ll just have to see where things shake out. If it’s anything like last year, this place seems to like our Lexus RC F GT3.”
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
How would you describe your return to Daytona to compete this time with AIM VASSER SULLIVAN?
“It’s good to be back in Daytona. The Roar went quite well. I learned a lot about the car and all four of us are relatively the same speed and all talking the same language about our Lexus, so it’s been an awesome start. Looking forward to the race, and hopefully the weather is consistent, and we can keep out of trouble.”
FRANKIE MONTECALVO, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
Are you looking forward to returning to AIM VASSER SULLIVAN for the full 2020 season?
“I’m really excited to be back with AIM VASSER SULLIVAN with the Lexus RC F GT3. I think we have a great driver lineup with Shane (van Gisbergen), Townsend (Bell), Aaron (Telitz) and myself. We should be super competitive in this field that really takes everything to be on the podium. We had a great run last year and we’re going to build off of that and hopefully get back up there.”
AARON TELITZ, No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3
What are your first impressions of the RC F GT3 as you return for your second Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend?
“This will be my second-ever Rolex 24 and my second Rolex 24 with AIM VASSER SULLIVAN in the Lexus RC F GT3. We’re feeling really well prepared for the race. Our team lineup is incredible and I’m really excited for Frankie (Montecalvo), Townsend (Bell), Shane (van Gisbergen) and I to go one step higher than we went last year.”