Lexus will continue competing with its RC F GT3 model (pictured above) next season in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but a move into Prototype before the end of the decade is also being explored.
Multiple sources have told RACER the luxury arm of auto giant Toyota is actively evaluating a Daytona Prototype international effort, with Toyota Racing Development senior manager Steve Hallam spearheading the initiative. It’s believed the TRD-led DPi venture has been shopped to multiple teams, and would be separate from any involvement it currently has with the 3GT-run Lexus RC F IMSA program.
Asked if the brand was looking to become IMSA’s fifth DPi manufacturer, Lexus motorsports manager Mark Egger declined to answer, but did concede that Toyota Motor Corporation would make the final decision.
“Right now, our focus is on the 2018 season,” he told RACER. “We will always assess the future with different racing series and racing cars and how that can unfold into the development of our production cars down the road, and we will work very closely with our parent company, TMC, to direct those plans for us.”
Former Lexus Grand-Am Daytona Prototype partner Chip Ganassi Racing (pictured above in 2009) is among the teams that are said to be of interest to TRD if the DPi effort goes forward.
“I’ve heard the same rumors about that brand,” said CGR managing director Mike Hull, whose team runs Ford’s factory IMSA and WEC GT Le Mans program. “First, our obligation is with Ford, and if Ford wants to do DPi, we’d want to do it with them. DPi has some momentum now. With Penske coming with two entries, I think it will raise the global awareness of DPi.
“I think more manufacturers are going to come on board in the next two or three years, and the manufacturers that aren’t there are going to look at it. That includes the one we currently race with in GTLM. I know we’d welcome competing in Prototype again, but everything would have to fall into place, and only if it didn’t jeopardize anything we currently have going.”
IMSA’s DPi grid is set for a 30 percent expansion in 2018 as it grows from seven to 10 full-time cars.
Acura Team Penske will field two new ARX-05s; Cadillac will return with its three entries from Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing while adding Visit Florida Racing back to the fold in a DPi-V.R; Mazda Team Joest will field its pair of RT24-Ps; and Tequila Patron ESM will resume its efforts with two Nissan Onroak DPis.