With a packed grid of over 60 cars across the different classes, the Roar Before the 24 was an opportunity to gain important track time, as well experience of the multi-class competition around the Daytona International Speedway. Every lap was also a chance for Ben to build his experience of the Lexus RC F GT3, and he made significant gains across each session before taking on his first qualifying session of the season.
The impressive pace shown earlier in the weekend continued as Ben was immediately fighting for a front row grid slot during the shootout. As he settled into a rhythm, Ben continued to improve his laptimes and set the class benchmark before ending the session firmly near the front of the large GT grid on the third row. The opening
The debut race weekend for the team saw Ben lead the charge for Vasser Sullivan and Lexus Racing USA, taking the rolling start. With 61 cars battling for space around the Daytona International Speedway, the opening laps were a frantic affair as the field battled for position with the final result confirming the all-important grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a week’s time. Ben showed little sign of his ‘rookie’ title in the championship, hustling the bold dayglow yellow and black Lexus as high as 4th while also battling with heavy traffic. As his stint approached the end, Ben was starting to struggle with tyre degradation and was one of the first to pit, handing over to teammate Kyle Kirkwood from 7th. With Ben watching on from the pitwall, Kyle rejoined the track and engaged in battles throughout his stint as the clock ran down. At the chequered flag, the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 secured 7th place on the grid and set its position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona next weekend.
“The Roar Before The 24 is over, and I have learnt a huge amount over the weekend. It was great to get my first race with the Vasser Sullivan team and the Lexus RC F GT3 under my belt! I really enjoyed the whole event, and the team and Lexus Racing USA have done an amazing job all weekend long, on and off track, and I thank them for that. The race was pretty chaotic, and I managed to move forward at the start, but we struggled slightly later in the stints with tyre degradation, but we start 7th for the big one next week. Plenty of homework for us to do ahead of the important race next week, but we are in a good place after this weekend.”
Ben now prepares to return to action with the Vasser Sullivan team for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, 27-30 January.