Barnicoat joins Lexus line-up for 2022 IMSA GTD Pro class

Vasser Sullivan has signed Ben Barnicoat to race its Lexus RC F in the new GTD Pro class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.

Barnicoat joins Lexus line-up for 2022 IMSA GTD Pro class

Team owners Jimmy Vasser and James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan revealed in September that for 2022 they would continue to campaign two of the curvaceous RC F coupes but would move one of them up to the GTD Pro class, which next year replaces GT Le Mans in IMSA.

Jack Hawksworth, who has spent the last five years racing an RC F – the first two with 3GT Racing – has racked up six wins in the GTD class in three seasons, and will be the cornerstone of the Vasser Sullivan Lexus GTD Pro entry.

The 30-year-old’s full-time partner will be British compatriot Barnicoat, who has spent the last four seasons as a factory driver for McLaren.

He has earned two pole positions in GT World Challenge Europe, finished seventh in the 24 Hours of Spa, made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut and in 2020 finished second in the 2020 Bathurst 12 Hours.

This pair will be joined for the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds by Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood, whose full-time job will be competing for AJ Foyt Racing in IndyCar.

Barnicoat said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining Lexus Racing USA. Hearing the future plans and ambitions that the Lexus brand has, to really write themselves into the history books of motorsport, is truly inspiring, and really excites me about this program and my future with Lexus…

“After meeting Jimmy and Sulli for the first time and seeing the team in action at Petit Le Mans last month, it’s clear to me that they are the team to be with in IMSA right now. The level of professionalism, along with the dedication and hunger to win races and championships was incredible, and I can’t ask for any more than that as a driver.

“I have a lot to learn with it being my first full season of IMSA, but I have an incredible car in the Lexus RC F GT3 and the best team of people around me to learn from and achieve our goals. We will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Andrew Gilleland, group VP and general manager, Lexus Division, commented: “Together with Vasser Sullivan and TRD, we’re continuously finding ways to be competitive in North American sportscar racing and drive the Lexus performance message to new levels. Racing in IMSA has helped strengthen awareness and consideration of Lexus performance models amongst our dealers, owners, and competitors alike.

“Our momentum is rapidly growing and everyone at Lexus is excited to race for an IMSA championship.

“Jack (Hawksworth) has been integral in the development and success of the RC F GT3 program from day one, and we are thrilled to have a driver of Ben’s caliber join the Lexus family. Paired with Kirkwood for the endurance rounds, our GTD Pro entry aligns perfectly with the Vasser Sullivan and Lexus Racing program. 

"They are young, quick and poised to fight for the top step of the podium all season long. We know we’ve got something special here and we’re excited to get out and earn our first GT championship together beginning with the Rolex 24 next month.”

Vasser and Sullivan issued a joint statement, commenting: “We are taking Vasser Sullivan Lexus to the next level, and building this bench of exceedingly competitive drivers is the next step to producing the kind of results we expect. Jack and Kyle have done an outstanding job for us capturing poles, consistently finishing on the podium and winning races.

“Ben’s ability and competitiveness in the world of sports cars has proven he belongs with us, we are energized to announce him today and have him join Vasser Sullivan Lexus.”

Hawksworth described the new line-up as “young and hungry … but with plenty of experience” while Kirkwood remarked that “2022 should be our year. We have the car, the crew and the drivers to make it happen.”

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