IMSA Wire: After Solid 2022 Season, Vasser Sullivan Looking for ‘Kaizen’ in 2023

After Solid 2022 Season, Vasser Sullivan Looking for ‘Kaizen’ in 2023Japanese Term for ‘Always Improving’ Is Team’s Rallying Point after 3-Win Season
November 3, 2022By David PhillipsIMSA Wire ServiceDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Vasser Sullivan Racing enjoyed a quietly strong 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign. Make that campaigns, as the team ran one Lexus RC F GT3 apiece in the GT Daytona (GTD) and the new GTD PRO classes, scoring a pair of wins and taking runner-up in the inaugural GTD PRO championship while notching another victory en route to eighth in the GTD rankings. Although pleased with the team’s performance, team co-owner Jimmy Vasser is by no means satisfied. “We finished second in the first season of GTD PRO and overall, we won three races in two classes,” Vasser said. “But in retrospect, we could have done way better. We shot ourselves in the foot at Sebring. We ran short of fuel and should’ve stopped for a splash of fuel, so we left a lot of points on the table there. Then we got caught out on minimum drive time at Watkins Glen in GTD, so we had a situation where a car that crashed out and finished the race on the trailer there wound up beating us in the championship.  “There were a lot of things involved with the No. 12 car (GTD), so where we finished in the points is not an indication of what we deserved. But overall, I’m proud that we won a couple of GTD PRO races and another in GTD. We were competitive everywhere and finished second in the (GTD PRO) championship.”One of the bright spots, make that two, came from the Vasser Sullivan Racing pit crews that captured the Michelin All Hands for the Win Award in both GTD PRO and GTD for spending the least amount of time on pit road throughout the course of the season. “What I’m most proud of is our cars won the Michelin pit stop competition in both classes,” said Vasser. “The guys did a great job on stops. We knew we needed to up our game in that respect in 2022, and we did.” On track, the season highlight came at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, where Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood steered the No. 14 Lexus to the GTD PRO victory in the Motul Petit Le Mans. It marked the maiden IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup win for team and manufacturer. “We got our first endurance race win at Petit Le Mans, which was fantastic,” Vasser says. “That was definitely a highlight; everybody was there from Plano (the North American headquarters for Lexus and Toyota in Texas), and Petit Le Mans is one of the crown jewels of the series. “To win that race was fantastic. There’s a video where you can see ‘Sulli’ (team co-owner James Sullivan) going absolutely nuts. We’ve been through lots together, but hands down that was our best achievement.” That said, Vasser is committed to achieving more in the coming season. “Our drivers and crews did a fantastic job and going forward, in 2023 it’ll be business as usual,” he said. “The Japanese word is ‘kaizen’ – always improving. We’ve got our heads down building cars for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. We’re focused on extracting more speed from what we’ve got; we don’t seem to have that little bit of extra speed we need at the end of races.“The car we’re using is the oldest homologation in GTD. Lexus has a new GT3 coming and it can’t get here fast enough, but we’ll be using the same car next year.” Vasser Sullivan plans to reload for singleton efforts in GTD and GTD PRO in 2023, and while the driver lineups are yet to be named, Vasser hinted at a “new face” in one of the cars for the endurance races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway.The team has no plans for a second car in either class in the coming season. “We kicked around the idea of running an extra car in the endurance races,” Vasser admitted, “but we decided it’s best to stay focused on one car in each class. We don’t need the extra effort for a 24-hour race.” In other words, look for 2023 to be business as usual for Vasser Sullivan Racing. One where the operative word remains “kaizen.”