One door closes and another opens. On Monday of this week, Lexus announced it was severing ties with 3GT Racing, which had run its IMSA program from its start at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. With the Gentilozzi family building and maintaining its two GTD cars in IMSA’s most competitive category, Lexus had a couple of wins, some podiums, but it was astonishing, at times, to see the errors made in preparation and race-day performance by this team.
After yet another difficult Petit Le Mans, Lexus pulled away from this partnership, awarding it a day later to a newly minted squad, AIM VASSER SULLIVAN, which will prep and field two Lexus LC F GT3 cars in GTD next year. The newly-formed group includes Andrew Bordin, Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan.
AIM Autosport has won races with customer programs dating back to the 1990s; they secured the 2012 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GTD championship in 2012. AIM’s Bordin, who has competed in open wheel and sports cars, said, “To compete for wins and championships in this ultra-competitive class requires excellence in all aspects of racing, and we now have all the right pieces in place.”
Vasser, the 1996 CART champion, and Sullivan decided to move beyond their current affiliation with Dale Coyne Racing in the IndyCar Series to be involved with IMSA competition. This past season was the first for their affiliation with Coyne, resulting in a win at the season opener at St. Petersburg and a strong seventh-place result, with driver Sebastien Bourdais, in the season standings.
“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” said Vasser. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the [Rolex] 24 Hours of Daytona, including a class win in 1992 and second overall in 2008. With the support of Lexus and our sponsors, this team has the tools to get the job done, and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”
The RC F GT3, based upon the production Lexus RC F high performance sports car, initially debuted at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona with 3GRT Racing. In addition to its pair of race wins, the team accumulated three podium, five pole positions and secured eight of the quickest GTD race laps; Lexus finished third in 2018 GTD manufacturers’ standings. This year, Lexus is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the introduction of its F brand.
“We believe AIM VASSER SULLIVAN is a great fit for our organization as we further evolve our race program,” said David Christ, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “Lexus F is a brand infused with motorsports technology, and the high performance capabilities of the RC F GT3 on the race track has proven Lexus as more than just a luxury automaker.”
The team intends to announce its 2019 driver lineups for the two cars within the coming weeks. AIM VASSER SULLIVAN will operate from the current AIM Autosport facilities in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. A newly-established US-based race facility will be located in Charlotte, N.C.