Lexus Racing has confirmed its split with Michigan’s 3GT Racing, the service provider for its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program. An announcement on 3GT’s replacement, which could be Vasser-Sullivan Racing, is said to be forthcoming by the manufacturer.
Under the Paul Gentilozzi-owned team’s stewardship, the Lexus RC F GT3 was delayed during its planned introduction for 2016, showed great potential in 2017, and became a front-running model this year as former IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth claimed three pole positions in the GT Daytona class and the sister entry of Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli scored two wins.
Lexus and 3GT part ways after earning fifth in the Manufacturers’ championship and securing a best of fifth in the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings with the No. 14 entry driven by Baumann and Marcelli.
“Paul Gentilozzi and the 3GT Racing team played an integral role in assisting Lexus in the development of the RC F GT3, “said Cooper Ericksen, vice president, Lexus marketing. “We are grateful for our partnership and for the growth we experienced together as Lexus returned to the racetrack. We wish them well in their future endeavors.”
Away from the track, a decade-long legal battle between former Gentilozzi driver Ryan Hunter-Reay came to a head just as the program was gaining momentum in 2017. The lawsuit, which fell in Hunter-Reay’s favor, brought unwanted attention to 3GT and Lexus, and also had the potential to hamper the GTD effort as asset seizures, including race transporters, were alleged to be in motion until the complaint was settled.
With the lawsuit out of the way, 3GT and Lexus made great strides in a short period of time to make the RC F a contender at most IMSA rounds. Learning from a frustrating 2017 season where routine mistakes behind the wheel or pit lane blighted its results, a switch from full factory backing to a Pro-Am model this year coincided with 3GT’s emergence as a steady force in the GTD category. According to Lexus, 3GT will also make an announcement on its next move in the near future.
“We started this journey with Lexus in the spring of 2015 [and] we have been exceptionally proud of the progress of the program on track,” Gentilozzi said. “In addition, we have made friends within the Toyota/Lexus organization that will remain friends for years to come. The cultural growth of our experiences with TCD in Japan and the technical exposure with TRD here in the U.S. have been invaluable. In our 48 years in motorsports, we can look back at this with success. We now move to a new chapter that will take us past 2020 on track.”