Courtesy: Lexus


By Antonio Perez

Rev up your engines and prepare for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Lexus and Vasser Sullivan Racing make history by pacing the GT Daytona (GTD) field with their first-ever Rolex 24 pole position. Join us as we dive into this monumental achievement, where precision engineering, teamwork, and relentless determination propel Lexus and Vasser Sullivan to the forefront of endurance racing.

Key Takeaways
  • Securing their first Rolex 24 pole position marks a historic milestone for Lexus and Vasser Sullivan Racing, underscoring their growing presence and competitiveness in the world of endurance racing. This achievement reflects the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and strategic collaboration between the teams.
  • Lexus' commitment to precision engineering and performance excellence is evident in their success on the racetrack. From the sleek aerodynamics to the powerful engine performance, every aspect of the Lexus race car is meticulously designed and optimized for maximum speed and agility, setting the stage for victory.
  • The partnership between Lexus and Vasser Sullivan Racing exemplifies the power of teamwork and determination in motorsport. Through their shared vision, tireless efforts, and unwavering focus, the teams have overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve success on one of the world's most prestigious racing stages.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 26, 2024) – The GTD category at the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona will witness the leadership of Lexus Racing and Vasser Sullivan following their initial pole position triumph at the renowned endurance race, courtesy of Parker Thompson and the Number 12 RC F GT3. Despite narrowly missing out on seizing pole position, Lexus factory pilot Jack Hawksworth secured the second spot in the GTD PRO class with the Number 14 RC F GT3, which launches its championship defense this weekend. Among 37 total GT entries, Hawksworth and Thompson qualified second and third, respectively.

Courtesy: Lexus

The 25-year-old Thompson, now part of the full-time roster with Lexus and Vasser Sullivan, secured his inaugural series pole with a time of 1:44.494 on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course. Thompson’s achievement in securing the GTD pole was by a mere four one-hundredths of a second. Thompson initially debuted in the series last season as an endurance driver for the team and now embarks on the complete IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship schedule in 2024.

Accompanying the young Canadian in the Number 12 Vasser Sullivan RC F GT3 are Vasser Sullivan veterans Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz, alongside newcomer and Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Ritomo Miyata. Montecalvo enters his sixth full-time season driving the Number 12 Lexus RC F GT3 in the GTD class. In the previous season, he and Telitz secured third place in the GTD class standings and clinched victory at Watkins Glen. Telitz returns for his fifth season with Lexus and Vasser Sullivan, now transitioning to an endurance driver role. Miyata marks the final addition to the Number 12 entry for the esteemed endurance race, making his debut in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. The 24-year-old holds the title of reigning Super Formula and Super GT500 Champion. It will also compete in the Formula 2 championship and the European Le Mans Series in 2024, in addition to serving as the reserve driver for the Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC Hypercar team.

Courtesy: Lexus

Despite narrowly missing pole position by eight one-hundredths of a second, Hawksworth positioned the Number 14 Vasser Sullivan RC F GT3 favorably for the Rolex 24. The native of Bradford, England, and fellow Lexus factory driver, Ben Barnicoat, embark on their GTD PRO class championship defense after clinching the first full-season GT title for Lexus and Vasser Sullivan last season. On the path to last year’s championship, Hawksworth and Barnicoat secured victories at Long Beach and Watkins Glen, alongside four pole positions and nine podium finishes in 11 races. Now in their third consecutive season together, their focus is set on claiming victory in the foremost race in American sportscar racing, following their third-place finish last January.

Courtesy: Lexus

Hawksworth and Barnicoat will be supported by Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Mike Conway, alongside INDYCAR racer and Florida native Kyle Kirkwood, for this year’s race. Both drivers previously competed for Vasser Sullivan in the Rolex 24 last season, piloting the Number 14 and Number 12 RC F GT3 entries. Conway brings extensive endurance racing experience, making his seventh start in the Rolex 24, including a third-place finish alongside Hawksworth and Barnicoat last year. For Kirkwood, this marks his fourth start in the endurance event, achieving a best finish of fourth in 2022 alongside Hawksworth and Barnicoat.

The year 2024 signifies the eighth season of Lexus Racing fielding RC F GT3s in the IMSA competition and the sixth season of collaboration between Lexus and Vasser Sullivan in the GT categories. Throughout their partnership, Lexus Racing and Vasser Sullivan have accrued 13 victories, 39 podium finishes, 18 pole positions, the 2023 IMSA GTD PRO Driver, Team, and Manufacturer Championship, and the 2020 IMSA Sprint Cup titles.

Courtesy: Lexus

The Rolex 24 at Daytona will be broadcast live on NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 27, with additional television coverage during the race on USA Network. Live flag-to-flag coverage will also be available for streaming on Peacock for authenticated subscribers. Follow Lexus Racing on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using #LexusPerformance to stay updated with all the racing action.

Vasser Sullivan Driver Statements


What is your perspective on commencing the race from the front row?

“We believe we have prepared adequately for the race with our Lexus RC F GT3. Despite our championship victory last year, we have retained the same personnel and crew within our Vasser Sullivan team, complemented by consistency in our driver lineup. Mike (Conway) participated in the Rolex with us last year, and Kyle (Kirkwood) has extensive experience in endurance races, alongside Ben (Barnicoat) and myself reuniting. We have continued to progress since last year. While we are optimistic about everything, the nature of this race means that certainty only emerges in the final two or three hours. We must wait and observe, but we will exert our utmost effort from a favorable starting position.”

BEN BARNICOAT, Number 14 Lexus RC F GT3

How does the solid qualifying performance instill confidence in the team ahead of the Rolex 24?

“As a collective representing Lexus and Vasser Sullivan, securing pole position in GTD and a second starting position in GTD PRO is a fantastic way to kick off the year. From our standpoint with the Number 14 RC F GT3, beginning the prestigious race from the front row is remarkable. Jack (Hawksworth) has consistently excelled in qualifying. On the side of car Number 12, we are thrilled and delighted for them, with Parker (Thompson) securing pole in his inaugural GTD attempt. This is particularly special and demonstrates that despite our championship triumph last year, we remain proactive and have continued to strive for improvement, particularly the personnel at the Vasser Sullivan team and Lexus. We have collectively invested significant effort during the offseason to enable us to arrive here and commence the year leading the pack. We are eagerly anticipating the race.”

KYLE KIRKWOOD, Number 14 Lexus RC F GT3

How has the lead-up to the race this weekend unfolded thus far?

“Our Number 14 Lexus RC F GT3 Vasser Sullivan team has experienced a smooth journey. I am exceedingly pleased with the performance of both the car and the team. Everything has transpired seamlessly thus far, precisely what one hopes for ahead of a 24-hour race. The fact that we possess a competitive pace imbues us with confidence, and the team cohesion is evident. Over the years, incidents have occurred at this race in the initial laps, so commencing from the front and maintaining our position will enable us to evade such occurrences behind us. I am incredibly proud of Parker (Thompson) securing pole in the GTD class, and Jack qualifying in P2 is fantastic.

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"This pole position at the Rolex 24 is a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence and the unwavering commitment of everyone at Lexus and Vasser Sullivan Racing. It represents a significant milestone in our journey in endurance racing and sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting race ahead." - [Lexus/Vasser Sullivan Racing Representative] Join us as we celebrate Lexus and Vasser Sullivan Racing's historic achievement of pacing the GTD field with their first Rolex 24 pole position, showcasing the pinnacle of precision engineering, teamwork, and determination on the racetrack.