The Lexus RC F GT3 has made its long-awaited North American public debut this week at Daytona, with the 3GT Racing squad set to take on a two-car factory assisted program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Sportscar365 caught up with Lexus Motorsports Manager Mark Egger to get his thoughts on the new program, its goals and future outlook.
Lexus’ involvement in IMSA was announced nearly a year ago, at Daytona. Are you excited to be making this a reality, in the public North American debut of the RC F GT3 this week?
“Yes, we’re excited. The new car has been fully developed and it’s going through the homologation process right now.
“When we looked at the 2015 car compared to where we’re going this year, we decided to hold off on bringing the ’15 car out and make the best business decision. We saw the development of this car going so well that we decided to put all of our eggs in the ’17 basket and start with a full season rather than mid-season.”
Aligning with Paul Gentilozzi’s group, 3GT Racing, is this a factory-supported team for the first year?
“We look at it from the standpoint of Paul’s the team, we’re the manufacturer. We’ll provide some marketing support to them, we’ll provide marketing support for our dealers.
“Paul’s the team, he runs the team, he hires the drivers. We’ll have some technical support behind him to make sure the car is where we need it to be so we can support that global platform in the Asian and global markets.”
There’s a lot of technical support going on this weekend, is that by design with it being the first time in North America?
“It’s really the first time that the car is being run. We ran it in the VLN race [last month] and it ran quite well, but when you’re bringing a brand new car to market, and you’ve got all the nuances that learning it on the track in different aspects.
“Our Japanese contingent will take that knowledge and spread it to their Asian counterparts and to Cologne to help them on those programs over there. ‘
“It’s about learning the car on a global platform, and since we’re racing before those other teams and other series run throughout the world it allows us to do that.”
Are there a plans to run the car in Europe outside of VLN next year?
“I’m not fully aware of what series it will run in. The teams over there will have the ’17 car and it will run in the Japanese market too.”
In terms of customers over here, what are your goals and targets?
“At some point in time, we’d love to have another customer come on board when the time is right, but right now we’re concentrating on our current team, making sure the quality is there before we add to the quantity.”
Could there be an expanded effort in IMSA, possibly in other series/classes in the future?
“We’re going to focus on GTD and the current RC F before we think of going beyond that. We have our hands full learning the new cars, the new tracks, new team, new drivers.
“It’s a pretty big package to put together to begin with.”
What are the goals and expectations for the season?
“To be able to finish each race would be the priority because then we can take the learnings from one track and take it to the next because we enter the tracks for the first time.
“But then also taking what we learn and applying it to our road cars to make them safer and more reliable, things like that.”