Development of the all-new Lexus RC F GT3 car continues to be made in both Europe and Japan, ahead of its planned worldwide debut in 2016 that will include a factory program in IMSA competition.
A trio of teams have been tasked with track testing and races with the new V8-powered GT3 car, with Farnbacher Racing and Emil Frey Racing focusing on VLN and Japanese squad LM Corsa competing in this year’s Super GT championship.
According to Mario Farnbacher, who teamed with brother Dominik to score a runner-up finish in only the car’s second-ever VLN race last month, a significant amount of progress has been made since the German squad took delivery of its first RC F GT3.
“When we looked at it the first time we drove the car, we’ve gained quite a lot of seconds out of it,” he told Sportscar365. “It was a great result for the Japanese team and for us too.
“It was the first time since 1976 since the last Japanese brand was on the podium at the Nordschleife. It was a good progress and result for them.
“We’re still working hard to develop the car and bring it to the front. That’s the goal: to make the product faster.
“It’s a brand-new car and every car struggles a bit in the beginning. I’m pretty sure in the future it will be strong and really nice.”
The Farnbacher brothers will again be in action this weekend at the Nordschleife for the seventh round of the VLN season, where they’ll be joined by Hiroki Yoshimoto in the family run entry.
For Mario, who has carved out a career of racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with Alex Job Racing, the RC F GT3 is a completely different beast from the Porsche 911 GT America he’s used to driving in America.
“The Lexus is a totally different car,” he said. “You sit more-or-less like a DTM car. You can [almost] see nothing when you look out of it!
“It’s a different driving style too. It was my first front-engined car and rear-wheel drive. It’s something different.
“But after a few laps you get into it and you just have to find the key points of the car and go out and maximize it.”
The 23-year-old German is also happy to be playing a part in the car’s development, which has come as a totally new, but exciting experience for him.
“It’s a cool thing. It’s an honor, to be honest, to be a part of this program and develop a GT3 car,” Farnbacher said. “I’m just one of the few drivers who gets to drive the prototypes. It’s amazing.”
Farnbacher said his family team’s 2016 program has yet to be decided, and will likely be steered the Japanese manufacturer.
While the exact scope of Lexus’ program in Europe remains unclear, plans are accelerating on the U.S. front, with a two-car factory GT Daytona effort being finalized.
Industry sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that a final decision on its factory team will be made by the end of the month.
It’s understood three teams are on the short list to land the multi-year contract, including at least one current IndyCar squad.
Key representatives from Lexus were on hand at last month’s TUDOR Championship race at Road America.
The program is expected to include support from TRD, marking the brand’s return to sports car racing since its Daytona Prototype engine supply program ended in 2009.