Lexus has been participating in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with its RC F since 2017based on a road car platform that was never intended for GT3 arena racing.
Parent company Toyota unveiled the GR GT3 concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last month. This new design is not based on a model from the current line of road cars, but is a next-generation racer on the GT3 specification (pictured below), which can be converted into a future Lexus model.
The GR GT3 concept
Photo: Motorsport.com / Japan
Speaking at Rolex 24 Hours in Dayton, Andrew Gileland, the group’s vice president and general manager of Lexus, hinted at the direction of movement that his brand has built from his mother, Toyota Motor Corporation.
“We have some future products that we connect with TMC and globalize our GT program, and we want to win where we participate,” Gileland said. “Obviously with the package of rules … everyone says I have a big, wild, hairy goal – well, I’d like to go to Le Mans one day. Now I’m not sure this will ever happen, but, boy, that would be cool.
“So this globalization of GT racing really drives them, even at the TMC level, everyone has seen the car they showed on stage in Tokyo. You don’t need a lot of imagination to understand where this is going. “
On monday Lexus teases images of its “possible next generation BEV Sport” – a long-nosed, short-tailed coupe from the future line of road car models that will support electrification. Its basic dimensions (below) coincide with the dimensions of the GR GT3 concept.
The current Lexus RC F racer is certified until 2026, but Gileland said: “We will not be racing on this car in 2026, I can assure you of that. But we will be racing in 2026.
“In our particular situation today, we are outsiders. I love outperforming brands with which we have no right to be there and we do it consistently.
“It helps us with TMC and I think Akio [Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota] very interested in racing sports cars, so it’s almost the perfect time to come together. “
David Wilson of Toyota Racing, who is responsible for Lexus racing in North America, explained the life cycle of the Lexus RC F and how it became a “Frankenstein” car among the IMSA GTD.
“I’ll be honest to say it’s not a GT3 car,” Wilson said. “But it has become an opportunity to train our company because the car we are racing in is a belated thought to make it a GT3 car, and that’s not how you bring the GT3 to market. Before you put the first line on paper, as an engineer you determine that it will be a GT3 car.
“We call it a bit of Frankenstein to boost performance, and it’s been an impressive job we’ve done in North America in collaboration with our partners in Europe and Asia to make a competitive race car that won the race, and we’ll continue to race and hopefully fight for the championship.
“Today we are fighting against 10 brands, 35 cars in GT class – to see Lexus mix it up with Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini – that’s where we need to be, it’s very special. This car is certified until 2026, but I say, “God help us if we are still racing on this car.” It’s been a long time in the tooth today.
“We are working behind the scenes with our partners and colleagues in Japan to develop the next generation, and it’s exciting.”