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Lexus RC F GT3 Delayed, Emil Frey Exploring Jaguar Options

The Lexus RC F GT3 was not present at the recent FIA Balance of Performance test for both GTE and GT3 cars at Ladoux in France and so will not now be homologated for 2016 competition. The project is not dead, however: Emil Frey Racing driver Lorenz Frey says it’s continuing with a renewed target of 2017 homologation.

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Emil Frey’s parent organisation is a large car dealer group active in both Switzerland and Germany, with Jaguar and Lexus among its most important brands. So it wasn’t surprising to see the team involved in the running of the Lexus RC F GT3, entering several VLN rounds this year in the SPX class for non-homologated cars. Farnbacher Racing has also been involved in the effort.

“Lexus wants to develop a fast and reliable car and it was too early to lock in the homologation,” Frey told us at the Nurburgring. “The plan from Japan now is to keep developing next year and go for homolgation in 2017. We will hopefully continue to run VLN rounds with the car as part of that, as they say, if a car can be strong around the Nordschleife, it should be strong everywhere.”

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Elsewhere, 2015 has been the year the Swiss squad finally got a handle on its nationally homologated Jaguar XKR (above). After several seasons of frustrating unreliability, the independently developed car scored its first podium at the Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone round and made it to the finish of the Spa 24 Hours.

And despite the Lexus project involvement, Emil Frey’s focus on Jaguar remains. For a while, it was hoped the team’s efforts with developing the XK would put it in pole position for any potential F-Type GT3 programme from the British manufacturer, but that possibility has faded in recent months.

“There’s still no decision from Jaguar,” Frey’s co-driver Freddy Barth told us. “There is some pressure from us as obviously they know we’re working with Lexus, too.” The team is thus left in limbo to some extent and is considering its options for 2016.

“We’d love to continue in Blancpain Endurance with the Jaguar,” said Frey. “Endurance racing is obviously good for car development, as there’s plenty of track time. But we could also do more events. Until now, five or six races a year was all we could manage, as we only have the one car and we had to do a full strip-down after every race. We had to keep checking the parts as we had no manufacturer catalogue telling us how long everything should last. But the car is more developed now, so we could potentially enter more races a year.”

Frey says that an F-Type GT3 programme would be ‘the dream’, but in the absence of a full-on customer programme along the lines of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Bentley’s efforts, there could be other possibilities.

“We could maybe do something with a bit of support from Jaguar and using our experience with the XK,” he reckons. “It all comes down to a line in the regulations that says a manufacturer must be ‘able’ to build at least 25 cars, and whether that means there actually has to be 25 cars built or that the manufacturer just has to have the capacity to build them if necessary. We’re expecting an update on 30 September so we should know more then.”

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