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Lexus Evaluating GTLM Program

Lexus evaluating GTLM program for WeatherTech Championship…

Photo: Barry Cantrell/IMSA

Photo: Barry Cantrell/IMSA

Lexus has revealed that a move to the GT Le Mans class is under evaluation, as part of its re-entry plan into to North American sports car racing.

The Japanese manufacturer makes its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Lexus RC F GT3, in what Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Jeff Bracken indicated is only a first step for the luxury automaker.

“This is our re-entry into racing, which we’re very excited about,” Bracken told Sportscar365.

“I think we feel compelled to perform and prove to ourselves and that we’re really in this thing for the long haul.

“At the same time, we’ll continue to evaluate other possibilities, whether it’s GTLM or whatever. None of those decisions have been made but it’s something we’ll want to keep an eye on.”

Bracken admitted the shortfalls of the GT3 platform, which has typically been customer-based and not for full manufacturer efforts.

Lexus, along with Acura make their GT Daytona class debuts this weekend, with both programs featuring a high level of factory support.

“The GT3, the customer car aspect of that [class], is complex,” Bracken said.

“It’s a whole another level of risk and expense. We knew that coming in but it’s a lot for us, beyond the racing aspects of what we’re doing.”

While plans are in place to eventually offer the RC F GT3 to customers beyond its launch partner 3GT Racing, a step up to GTLM is under consideration for a full factory assault in the WeatherTech Championship.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Bracken said. “Right now we’re trying to gather up what the expense would be, to move to GTLM.

“Until we have a chance to throughly evaluate it, we can’t make that decision. We’re intrigued by it because it does not have a customer car complexity to it.”

Bracken said no decision has been made on whether an all-new car would be developed to GTE regulations or that the RC F GT3 would be adapted to the class, as has been the case for the BMW M6 GTLM.

TRD President and General Manager Dave Wilson echoed Bracken’s thoughts but has taken a cautious approach.

“I’d love to see this grow and would be love to be racing in the GTLM program, one year racing against those Ford GTs,” he told Sportscar365.

“But that’s just me dreaming. We have to keep things in perspective.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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