IMSA: Bell, Montecalvo join AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus GTD effort
By Marshall Pruett | RACER magazine and RACER.com F1 correspondent
The new AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F team is close to completing its full-time roster with the signing of 2015 IMSA GT Daytona champion Townsend Bell and his recent GTD co-driver Frankie Montecalvo. The American duo join Lexus program veteran Jack Hawksworth, the first driver confirmed by AVS, who will have his teammate announced in the near future.
“We are pleased to announce that Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo will be driving for AIM Vasser Sullivan in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series in 2019,” said co-owner Jimmy Vasser. “This is a great paring of drivers. They know each other and they know what it takes to be successful.”
In Bell, Vasser, fellow co-owner James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan, and some of the AIM Autosport staff have a familiar friend joining the program. Having competed for the former KVSH IndyCar team co-owned by Vasser and Sullivan, and won his GTD title in a Ferrari entered by AIM, the reunion has immense potential.
And in Montecalvo, AVS has a seasoned veteran whose chemistry with Bell is already well established in the GTD category. Together, the combo gives AVS a turnkey solution that should be capable of vying for wins and more on the team’s maiden season in IMSA.
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“I’m thrilled to have a chance to go after another IMSA GTD championship with Frankie,” Bell said. “We’ve had some partial seasons the last few years and the stars aligned to make this happen. My best Indy 500 finish came while driving for Jimmy Vasser and I’ve always admired the way he runs the team and guides the ship. The fact that AIM and Ian Willis are also involved makes this feel like one big family get together. Ian led us to a Daytona 24 win in 2014 and the NAEC championship. I’m looking forward to turning some laps soon in the Lexus RCF GT3. It’s a race-winning, pole-sitting car…it’s nice to have that confidence heading into a new season.”
Like Bell, Montecalvo will also draw from experience gained while driving for AIM to expedite their learning curve with the Lexus RC F GT3.
“In 2017, I raced with AIM and had some success in the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint X,” Montecalvo added. “With the addition of Jimmy Vasser, Sulli and Lexus, we should have a very competitive team this year. Co-driving with Townsend, I feel AVS has a real shot at competing for a championship. I’m looking forward to heading to Daytona to start off the 2019 season!”
The first outing for AVS is expected to come in December at Daytona for a Michelin tire test. Known for commissioning memorable liveries, the lone Lexus could arrive with multiple designs in place to help Sullivan decide on which direction to take its cars in 2019.
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