Lexus Racing and its partners at 3GT Racing will continue to field a pair of RC F GT3 entries in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The brand’s motorsports manager says an expansion with new teams and additional GT Daytona entries are also under consideration for the future.
“We will continue with 3GT as a customer program with two cars,” Mark Egger told RACER. “We’ve had a lot of interest from multiple teams, and going into 2018, we don’t have any deals with other teams, but I would think in the future, we would look to expand with the right team and the right numbers.
“We are more about the quality than the quantity, and with a brand-new car that’s homologated for three years, we’re still new to it. We’ve been very surprised by the response from multiple team owners who’ve inquired about the RC F GT3 and we’ll continue to talk to them.”
The Michigan-based 3GT outfit showed promise throughout the year as the big V8-powered sedans flirted with the podium. Despite missing out on major triumphs during its debut, Egger says he’s pleased with where the Lexus Racing effort is headed.
“A championship would have been great, podiums would have been great,” he added. “But entering the year with measured expectations told us we were up against competitors who’d been racing for decades, and that expertise, building year upon year, helps with any program. We had ups, we had downs, but we have a car that’s sound and can get to those bigger successes. You start off crawling, then walking, then running, and then sprinting. You don’t start off on the top step, and we realize that.”
Minus a few procedural errors in the pits, on-track clashes, and a big crash to close the season, Egger knows the chrome blue RC F GT3s would have compiled a stronger finishing record last season. It’s changed his outlook on 2018; rather than spend the off-season searching for missing speed, he knows an uptick in consistency will pay dividends.
“When you have one pole position, set a track record, a couple of fast laps by Jack Hawksworth and a bunch of top 10s, you know the car is there,” he said. “Putting all the pieces together is what we need; pit lane infractions and other items prevented some of that, but we move on and the next race is right around the corner.”
Like Michael Shank Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 program in GTD, the Lexus Racing 3GT outfit will undergo some changes before it returns in January. IMSA allowed the two Japanese manufacturers to enter full factory-assisted efforts as the NSX and RC F raced for the first time in GTD. For 2018, however, they will be expected to return with a more traditional Pro-Am driver lineup and operate without the complete underwriting of each brand.
It’s unclear exactly how that transformation will look for 3GT in the cockpit and on the sponsorship side, but some of its 2017 drivers are known to have pursued Prototype rides, and new drivers have also expressed interest in racing for 3GT. Although the exact makeup of the team has yet to be revealed, Egger says Lexus will continue to support the series with the same expansive level of advertising.
“We definitely respect IMSA’s direction and the class that we’re in. We’ll have more of a true customer team in 2018, but on the marketing side, there won’t be a change in scope there,” he confirmed. “Whether we have two cars or 50 cars on track, we’ll continue to market the racing performance of the car, and our F Sport products will be marketed at the track.”