Despite previous plans to compete in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Lexus revealed a change in its focus on the development of the Lexus RC F GT3 to 2017. Lexus confirmed to Slipstream Network that it will not compete in the remaining rounds of the WeatherTech Championship, but plans to race in 2017 with two fully-developed GT3 competitors.
Last year, Lexus announced plans to develop and field the RC F GT3 in global sports car racing with the newly formed F Performance Racing. The team grew from the ashes of RSR Racing– Paul Gentilozzi’s dormant team in the Prototype Challenge division of the Weather Tech Championship.The team announced its intentions to debut at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit with a part-time effort contested by Scott Pruett and Sage Karam.
Pruett expanded upon their initial plans to field a 2016 intermittent Lexus RC F GT3 later on in the season shortly after Lexus was announced as an IMSA Official Automotive Partner in Daytona.
As previously reported by SportsCar365, the project ran into supply issues, forcing them to delay the maiden outing, and miss the race in the Motor City. Questions began to circulate as to whether or not the team could overcome the challenges in time to field a race car before the end of the season.
Mark Egger, Lexus Motorsports Manager, revealed that the brand’s focus would turn to 2017 in an effort to ensure the best-developed race car to represent the decorated brand.
“We’re making the strategic and competitive decision to focus our efforts on the 2017 vehicles, next season with a two-car effort, so we can represent the brand in a way we deem appropriate,” Lexus said in a statement on Monday. The interim 2016 car is still being used for data collection with F Performance racing as the proper 2017 GT3 competitor continues its development on track with the global team of TRD and TMG.
Along with the change in development, Lexus announced that it would field two cars in the WeatherTech Championship next year. The effort expects to debut at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. “We are not ready to talk about drivers at this time,” Egger replied after being asked about drivers for the second car.
Despite the desire to supply customer teams in the future, customer programs are not expected in 2017 as the marque plans to develop the RC F before opening up to privateer teams. Lexus currently holds no plans to field a factory-backed program in Europe, but European teams could potentially field a car in the near future.
The news comes when a variety of manufacturers with GT3 machinery look to the already competitive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. There are now talks of two to four additional GT Daytona competitors.
Slipstream Network expects more details regarding the program and drivers to emerge in a build up to the SEMA show in Las Vegas later this year, as is typical Lexus tradition.
Featured Image: Lexus
Zach Wenzel contributed to this report.