TRD President and General Manager Dave Wilson has reaffirmed Lexus’ position in the GT Daytona class, stating they’ve taken an “appropriate position” in factory involvement per its agreement with IMSA for 2018.
The GTD manufacturer, which along with Acura, have been mandated to revert to customer support roles following a single-season allowance of increased works support in each of the cars’ first year of competition.
While 3GT Racing remains the only team campaigning Lexus RC F GT3s, it’s resulted in a revised structure, particularly with financial and technical support, according to Wilson.
“The biggest change year over year, setting aside the mechanics, just in terms of the way Lexus and TRD support the series, now we’re taking a step back,” he told Sportscar365.
“Last year, with IMSA’s blessing, along with our friends at Acura, we were much more hands on with a much bigger presence at the races, to help the team get up to speed.
“Now we’re taking more of the appropriate position as a manufacturer and focusing forward.”
The Paul Gentilozzi-led team enters the season with a revised driver lineup, in David Heinemeier Hansson joining Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Lexus and the new full-season combination of Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann in the No. 15 entry.
Longtime Lexus-backed driver Scott Pruett, meanwhile, retires following this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
While cognizant of IMSA’s objectives for the Pro-Am category, Wilson has reaffirmed Lexus’ long-term commitment to the WeatherTech Championship, potentially in expanding into a new category.
The manufacturer is known to have been evaluating a DPi program, while also having previously completed feasibility studies for a GT Le Mans-spec car.
“We’ve got some meetings coming up this spring with our colleagues from Japan to talk about the future and what happens,” Wilson said.
Additional Customers Still the Objective
Despite returning with only a single team, Wilson said securing additional customers remains an objective, although admitted its challenges.
Lexus’ entry into GTD last year came mid-cycle in the category’s homologation period, which Wilson believes has led to reduced demand for the car.
“With a homologated series running three-year cycles, the challenge commercially becomes if you don’t get in in Year One, as a customer, the costs in Year Two and Year Three become pretty prohibitive,” he said.
“Unless you’re a manufacturer willing to step in with some pretty aggressive subsidization, it just doesn’t pencil. That’s not really what our role is supposed to be, so we’re trying to be respectful.”
The Lexus was one of four GTD cars to utilize its Evo allowances for this year, with a switch from a Continental to Bosch ABS system and serviceability updates being the biggest changes to the car.