A return to the IMSA podium for Ben Barnicoat in Lime Rock Park

Monday, July 18, 2022
IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship - Northeast Grand Prix
Ben Barnicoat was back in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship action, and he welcomed back his regular GTD Pro teammate, Jack Hawksworth, to the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. The pair were immediately back up to speed, battling hard throughout the race to convert a front row start to a solid podium finish at Lime Rock Park.

After solid running during the opening practice sessions, the team looked to have delivered a strong setup, once again as the fluro yellow and black RC F GT3 pushed for the top of the timing screens. Having missed the previous couple of races, Ben’s teammate Jack was back to full speed to take part in the qualifying shootout, securing an impressive front-row grid slot as the championship ran for the first time this season without the prototype classes alongside the GTD runners.

Holding position from the start, the #14 pushed for the lead over the opening laps around the short Lime Rock Park circuit. Battling hard for the top positions, the Vasser Sullivan team looked to work out options to make the pass for the lead, and a shorter first pitstop saw Jack emerge from the pitlane in clean air. A strong defensive drive at the head of the field saw the Lexus GTD Pro entry leading until lap 100, shortly ahead of the driver change pitstop.

Ben climbed aboard during the final, longer fuel fill meaning he could run to the end without any further planned pitstops. The longer stop meant Ben ran in the final podium position, and he quickly engaged in the fight for the position ahead, chasing down the Aston Martin. This battle would continue until into the final stages, before a late Full Course Yellow period closed the field up for a final dash to the flag.

With the clock now running down into the last 10 minutes, Ben looked to make a bold move around the outside of turn 1 on the restart but he was unable to complete the pass as he also defended from the chasing pack, avoiding contact between the battling GTD field which would bring an unfair end to the strong run of the sister car. Ben continued to apply pressure over the remaining laps, but held 3rd as the chequered flag fell.

Reflecting on a bittersweet end result to the Lime Rock Park weekend, Ben explained:
“Overall, we have to take this weekend as a huge positive. It was great to be back sharing the car with Jack, now that he’s fully recovered from his injuries, and great to see what a strong place the Vasser Sullivan team is currently in. Historically Lime Rock Park has been a tough track for the Lexus RC F GT3, but all weekend long we were right at the front pushing our competitors, showing the steps we have made with our development this year.
“Jack qualified our car on the front row and Frankie got the GTD pole, which made all of the travel to and from Europe in the middle of Le Mans race week for testing here totally worth it! As for the race itself it was a bittersweet ending, in all honestly. Despite leading for the majority of the opening half of the race, we didn’t quite have the legs to beat the #9 car today, they were just too fast. I felt like we really could have made 2nd, but it still a great result for the whole team! I’m now looking forward to a couple of weeks off after a busy eight weeks on the road.”

The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship continues next month at Road America over the weekend 4-7 August, for the IMSA Fastlane Sportscar Weekend.