First race win for Ben Barnicoat with Lexus Racing and Vasser Sullivan in Detroit

Sunday, June 5, 2022
IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship - Detroit GP
It was a debut IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship victory and a first on US soil for Ben Barnicoat on the Belle Isle Park street circuit for the Detroit GP. Following a late call-up for the weekend, Ben joined forces with his Endurance event teammate, Kyle Kirkwood, in the #17 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, and helped to convert pole position into a first win of the season for the team and for Lexus Racing.

Substituting for his Vasser Sullivan teammate, Jack Hawksworth, for this weekend, Ben arrived at another new circuit ready for action. He and Kyle worked through set up in the opening practice sessions and were quickly up to speed, heading into qualifying as the quickest in the GTD class. This pace was converted in the qualifying shootout as Kyle posted consistently improving laptimes to secure the team’s first pole position of the year by just over 0.1s.

Ben watched on from the pitlane as Kyle took the start of the race, battling hard at the front of the field. An initial drop of position then saw the #17 fluro yellow and black Lexus RC F GT3 firmly on the back of the race leader until hour mark. As the leader pitted, the Vasser Sullivan team rolled the dice on strategy and ran a slightly longer stint, giving Kyle clean air and a clear track.

Quick work in the pitlane saw a switch to Ben with an hour to go, and the clear push laps, together with the decision to only change two tyres, gave the #17 a margin as it exited the pitlane in the race lead. From here, Ben traded fastest laps and managed the gap to the chasing pack, while also negotiating traffic around the tight and bumpy Belle Isle Park circuit. His pace remained strong throughout the stint, and he maintained the gap at the front of the field despite continued pressure. As the DPI lead battle intensified in the closing minutes, Ben managed the traffic and his own fight with the GTD field, keeping the chasing pack at bay and crossing the line with a 2.2-second lead to score his first win with Lexus Racing and Vasser Sullivan.

Delighted after picking up his first IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Challenge race-winners’ trophy, Ben commented:
“It was an awesome day! What can I say? I’m stoked to get my first win with Lexus and Vasser Sullivan. We fell to second early in the race so this one is on the Vasser Sullivan team. They did an amazing pit stop, called a great strategy, and got us back out front. It was tough out there. We only took two tyres, so it was pretty loose for a while until the fuel burned off. Then at the end, we had it under control. This one is for the Vasser Sullivan boys and for Jack (Hawksworth) who’s at home recovering. I send him all the best and can’t wait to have him back in the car with me soon.”

Ben now heads back to Europe before returning to IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship duties at the end of the month for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, Watkins Glen over the weekend, 23-26 June.