The troubled development process for the Lexus factory and its upcoming RC F GT3 car appears to be headed for a reboot.
Marshall Pruett has confirmed the recalcitrant production-based V8-powered coupe will undergo a new round of development as the current chassis has continued to struggle in its bid to post competitive lap times.
The RC F has been under development in Europe by Farnbacher Racing and Emil Frey Racing (above), and also in Japan’s Super GT Championship (below), but the car was not present at last week’s FIA Balance of Performance test at Michelin’s Ladoux test track in France. The need to redevelop the car has taken precedence over FIA GT3 homologation, and the new plan, according to Frey, is to spend the next year solving the RC F’s problems and present it at Ladoux in 2016 so it can officially compete in 2017.
“Lexus wants to develop a fast and reliable car and it was too early to lock in the homologation,” Frey told DSC last week “The plan from Japan now is to keep developing next year and go for homologation in 2017.”
Frey’s timeline fits the news heard by many of the American teams who’ve bid on running the factory Lexus GT3 program in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Just as delays have been encountered on homologating the RC F, the roster of potential entrants for the Lexus IMSA effort have also seen delays in the awarding of the contract.
After a prolonged bout of silence, a letter from the marque went out to those teams earlier in the month thanking them for their patience, and promising a decision was being finalized. An announcement early in October has been suggested as a possibility.
Among the other unconfirmed news surrounding the Lexus IMSA project involves team owner Paul Gentilozzi, who has been tipped as the frontrunner to receive the RC F contract. Multiple sources have suggested Gentilozzi’s Michigan-based outfit has been selected to develop and run the Lexus RC F in IMSA’s GT Daytona class at some point next year, although he denied those claims when reached on Monday.
“We’ve not been told we’ve won anything in any official capacity,” Gentilozzi said yesterday.
Provided the contract is given to Gentilozzi, it would follow his team’s most recent factory GT experience when RSR Racing was formed to build and develop Jaguar’s XKR GT2 in 2010. RSR then represented the British marque at Le Mans, and for two seasons in the American Le Mans Series before the program was shuttered at the end of 2011. Since 2012, RSR has successfully campaigned in the ALMS, and its successor, the TUDOR Championship, in the Prototype Challenge class.
With the Lexus RC F GT3 chassis expected to continue a development program that extends well past the start of next year’s renamed WeatherTech Championship, the introduction of the Lexus GTD program is expected to remain fluid.
Provided Lexus continues with its original goal of seeing the car race in IMSA in 2016, and due to its lack of official FIA GT3 homologation, IMSA would be required to create a GTD-specific BoP for the RC F to compete in the WeatherTech Championship.