Podium finish at Indianapolis edges Ben Barnicoat closer to the IMSA championship title

Monday, September 18, 2023
2023 - IMSA - Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The debut visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship saw Ben Barnicoat secure more silverware for the season, finishing P3 with his Vasser Sullivan teammate, Jack Hawksworth. The result, at the wheel of the #14 Lexus RC F GT3 at the ‘Battle of the Bricks’, has extended the lead at the top of the championship standings, and moves the pair to within a race start of the title at the season finale.

The penultimate IMSA race weekend arrived at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Ben and Jack enjoying a strong run of form. The free practice sessions ran well, and the fluro yellow and black Lexus was pushing hard to be at, or near, the top of the timesheets throughout. Qualifying looked to continue this pace, with Jack taking on the single lap sprint in overcast conditions, and he was initially quickest. Setting purple sectors, the #14 Lexus went to the top of the timings for the GTD Pro standings, before being pipped to a second row gridslot in the dying moments of the session.

With Ben watching from the pitbox, Jack held position for the start of the Battle of the Bricks, but incidents elsewhere in the busy field of 48 cars brought out a Full Course Yellow at the end of the opening lap. A drive-through penalty for the leader promoted Vasser Sullivan’s GTD Pro entry on the restart and, at the 40-minute mark, Jack inherited the race lead as pitstop strategies started to play out. A further Full Course Yellow limited the benefit of running in clean air, and the pitcrew went to work during the caution period as the first pitstops were completed by the remainder of the field. A pass on the championship rival Corvette for the final podium spot would prove crucial as Jack continued towards the final hour.

With differing pitstop strategies playing out across the lead quartet, Ben took over the fully serviced #14 RC F GT3, wasting no time in getting up to race speed. Running in P4, Ben immediately posted the #14’s quickest sector on his second lap, and then improved further by setting the fastest lap of the race to that point. From here, the young Brit worked to close down the leading trio, and when the polesitter made a late pitstop in the final half of the stint, Ben had gained enough ground to comfortably move into the final podium position. As the laps continued to count down, Ben chipped away at the gap ahead, but held position as the chequered flag dropped. At the end of the 160-minute battle, Ben and Jack secured P3, extending their impressive run of results.

Commenting after his ninth top-3 finish of the season, Ben explained:

“What an awesome day for us. It was going to be difficult to get an outright win heading into this weekend, but we knew exactly what we needed to do – beat the Corvette team – and that was our main objective. As much as we wanted to go out and get a race win, we had our goal in sight, and everyone executed the perfect job accomplishing it.
“There was a lot of pressure, and a massive amount of points on the line, but all of our Vasser Sullivan Lexus Racing pit crew, engineers and strategists on the #14 car did an amazing job today, keeping cool and doing exactly what we needed to. Jack started off well, and I was able to take over with a nice gap, and then manage until the end. So, a great day all round; third position is another amazing result. It is our ninth podium from 10 races this year, and another fantastic result for the Vasser Sullivan team. I’m beyond happy to be in this position heading to Petit Le Mans, and excited to go and get the job done there.”

The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship will be decided next month, with the season finale, Motul Petit Le Mans.  Taking place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, 11-15 October, Ben and Jack only need to start the 10-hour event to secure the title.