Hawksworth & Heistand Stand Tall In Belle Isle Brawl

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Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand won the GT Daytona portion of Saturday's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Belle Isle Park. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand won the GT Daytona portion of Saturday's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Belle Isle Park. (Al Steinberg Photo)

DETROIT – AIM Vasser Sullivan is getting comfortable atop the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup standings.

In Saturday’s 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand crossed the finish line first in the GT Daytona class to score their second consecutive victory in the new-for-2019 championship.

The WeatherTech Sprint Cup – contested solely by GTD teams – encompasses the class’ seven races that are two hours and 40 minutes or less in length.

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After Heistand qualified the car in fourth and held steady in the top five, Hawksworth got behind the wheel and closed in on Patrick Long in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Long, who inherited the lead from substitute teammate and polesitter Zacharie Robichon, gave way as Hawksworth ducked inside the Porsche to steal the lead with 51 minutes remaining.

Although Long was able to keep Hawksworth in his sights, the No. 14 Lexus did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the race.

“We got a bit of a streak going, don’t we?” said Hawksworth. “It was a good race. We did good job qualifying yesterday and were able to have a good stint and put it in the top five. We had a really good pit stop. To be honest, we knew it would come down to that stop because the GTD class was a lot shorter than normal, in terms that we normally have 40 seconds to fuel between driver change, fuel, and tire change. We knew the driver change would be important, and it went well. We ended up coming out in third and I minded my way.”

While it was a victory celebration for AIM Vasser Sullivan’s No. 14 Lexus, the team’s second entry of Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell in the No. 12 earned a podium finish of its own to stand next to their teammates with a third-place finish. Sandwiched between the two Lexus RC Fs were Long and Robichon for a runner-up finish.

“Fundamentally, racing is about getting the basics right,” said Hawksworth. “This team is what we’re really focusing on. The race pace needs to be good. Pit stops need to be good. We’ve got a really good silver driver in Richard and a great package in pit lane. And when you put that all together, it’s a testament to what the team is doing and that’s how you end up winning races.”

With wins in the first two races of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup – the first being at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course four weeks ago – Hawksworth and Heistand now have opened up a 10-point lead, 70-60, in the standings over Long.

It’s a tie for third place with Montecalvo and Bell, along with the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 drivers Bryan Sellers and Ryan Hardwick, with 56 points. Hardwick and Sellers finished fifth on Saturday behind another Lamborghini, the No. 44 for Magnus Racing and drivers Andy Lally and John Potter.