Barnicoat scores debut IMSA podium on the streets of Long Beach

Monday, April 11, 2022
IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship - Grand Prix of Long Beach
The street circuit of Long Beach in California saw the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 score the first IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship podium finish of the season. At the end of the opening Sprint Cup round, Ben Barnicoat and teammate Jack Hawksworth had moved through the field to finish in P2 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. After a hard-fought start to the season which hasn’t yielded the results worthy of the effort, the weekend was made even sweeter as the team’s second car also secured a class podium.

Ben arrived at the Long Beach event for his debut at the California street track with a clear determination and focus on scoring a strong result. The opening events of the season had shown the promise of the Lexus RC F GT3, and the team was looking to keep building on the momentum to get the Sprint Cup programme off to the best start.

With a more compact grid than the previous events, competition over the opening practice sessions suggested that it would be a close battle during the 100-minute race. Ben used these early periods to gain track knowledge and get up to speed, before Jack took on qualifying in the dayglo yellow and black Lexus.

Starting from the second row of the grid, Jack maintained position as the race got underway under blue skies. He held station throughout the duration of his stint before pitting to hand over to Ben with 60-minutes remaining on the clock. The team gained a position during the stop but, with differing strategies at the front of the field, the net result wouldn’t play out until later in the race.

Ben continued to push before a Full Course Yellow period neutralised the field, bringing the dayglo yellow and black Lexus back on to the rear bumper of the leaders. As the race got back underway, Ben managed the restart well and the result of the pitstop strategies put Ben firmly into the podium positions. The remaining half an hour would see two further Safety Car periods, but Ben remained composed as action got back underway, holding position as the action packed few laps saw several incidents up and down the field. At the line, Ben brought the #14 Lexus RC F GT3 home in P2, just 1.4-seconds off the lead, and leading home a double podium for the Vasser Sullivan team.

Commenting after picking up his debut IMSA trophy, Ben explained:
“It was a great day! Amazing to finally get the first podium of the season after being so close in both Daytona and Sebring. We finally got there. I feel like the Vasser Sullivan team did a great job today -- everyone involved from the ground up. We definitely didn’t have the pace, but we maximized what we had so to come out of here with a second place is beyond what we thought we were quite capable of on paper. A huge thank you to everyone at Vasser Sullivan and Lexus Racing for their effort today. Hopefully it’s the first of many this season.”

Next up on the IMSA schedule sees Ben travel north to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship presented by Motul, 28 April-1 May 2022.