Lexus braced for stronger opposition in bid to retain GTD Pro title

David Wilson oversees Lexus Racing and its Vasser Sullivan team, which won the title last year with its British aces Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat.

It started its 2024 season with a strong qualifying performance at Daytona, with the sister #12 RC F car claiming the marque’s first-ever pole for the Rolex 24 in the pro-am class.

With a total of 34 rivals across the GTD categories in this weekend’s blue riband series opener, Wilson warns that title success, and even the class pole, means little with 24 hours kicking off another season of competition.

“Starting from the front row gave us a few days to feel good about ourselves, although it doesn’t amount to much when it comes to the 24-hour race itself,” said Wilson when asked by about its 2024 chances.

“Coming off our first championship with the #14 car, and the momentum and confidence it brings to all of us, the maturation of Vasser Sullivan Racing, the racecraft, the blocking and tackling that they do every week has been the most impressive.

“In 14 races last year, 10 podium finishes – and that’s how you win a championship in a BoP [Balance of Performance] class.

“This year it’s going to be a lot harder, with 10 other cars in the Pro class, and we have new cars in the Ford and Corvette, which is awesome to have that competition, so we’re going to have our hands full with our car that’s gotten a bit long in the tooth.

“For Team Lexus, it’s all about execution and the minimization of mistakes with good strategy. Nothing spectacular! And then there’s no reason why we can’t be competing for another championship or two.”

#12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Frankie Montecalvo, Parker Thompson, Aaron Telitz, Ritomo Miyata

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

#12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Frankie Montecalvo, Parker Thompson, Aaron Telitz, Ritomo Miyata

Parker Thompson claimed GTD pole in the #12 Lexus, while factory driver Hawksworth just missed out on capturing top spot in GTD Pro. That means they’ll start 25th and 26th overall, with Hawksworth pipping Thompson by 0.032s after each took turns to tow the other in a frantic, red-flag shortened qualifying on Sunday.

“One for one in GTD qualifying, getting pole at Daytona,” said Thompson, who shares his car with Frankie Montecalvo, Aaron Telitz and soon-to-be-F2 racer Ritomo Miyata. “Doesn’t get much better than that!

“It’s incredible to think I was spotting here two years ago and now I’m taking my first pole in a Lexus RC F GT3. Getting the first Rolex 24 pole for the team and Lexus is neat.”

Hawksworth, who is partnered by Barnicoat, Mike Conway and IndyCar star Kyle Kirkwood, added: “We’ve continued to build since last year. We feel positive about everything, but the thing with this race is that you never really know until the last two or three hours.

“We’ll have to wait and see, but will give it our best from a good starting spot.”

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