Lexus hopeful of building up GTD customer list

Image by Michael Levitt/LAT

Lexus hopeful of building up GTD customer list

IMSA

Lexus hopeful of building up GTD customer list

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Coming off of a successful 2018 season where its Lexus RC F GT3s won a pair of IMSA races, Toyota Racing Development president Dave Wilson was hoping to see more of the Japanese cars in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Highly competitive at most rounds, the Lexus sedans provided an interesting alternative to the familiar offerings from Acura, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG, and Porsche. A switch to the new AIM Vasser Sullivan team for 2019 has seen the continuation of the RC F platform in GT Daytona, and despite the lack of immediate growth, Wilson is hopeful 2020 will place more Lexus models on the grid.

“We’re a brand that, even though this is our third year, we’re neophytes in sports car racing,” he told RACER. “We are competing with GT brands that have been doing this for decades. I have talked to most team owners in this garage, and developed relations, and I’ve known a lot of them. Mike Shank, we go way back. I’ve tried to expand our portfolio, but in the end, it’s about trying to find the right fit, trying to find the right timing, and meet in a manner that’s equitable to both parties, and ultimately, we weren’t able to do more than we are with the AIM Vasser Sullivan team.

“I’d like to have five cars like Lamborghini has on the grid. I think another two-car team for us would my ideal situation, and maybe we can make that happen for next year, but it’s just getting all the stars and planets aligned, and now it’s about getting our new team partners, getting their feet underneath them.”

No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 and No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 at the Roar. (Image by Richard Dole/LAT)

Wilson’s confidence in the new partnership between the AVS team and Lexus is extremely high. If all goes according to plan, interest should rise in acquiring its GTD product as the year starts to progress.

“I think I’ll get more phone calls, honestly. I will,” he added. “Our expectation, we’d like to end the season as one of the three top manufacturers on that championship podium. We’d like to be on that podium at the banquet at the end of the season. Obviously, we’d like to win more, but I think if we can just be more consistent; the podium is doable.

“As a brand, late into last season, we were right there. We kind of fell apart there at the end, but success begets success, in anything you do. I think the AIM Vasser Sullivan team are going to bring a level of professionalism to this garage that is going to be really good for everyone.”

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