The Lexus RC F GT3 makes its international racing debut this weekend, taking on one of the biggest challenges in the motorsport calendar, the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The 24-hour endurance race will see two RC F GT3 in action, following the car’s unveiling earlier this month at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Developed by Lexus Gazoo Racing for customer competition, the RC F GT3 is being entered for the race by 3GT Racing as part of its first season contesting the GTD category in the IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car Championship.
It marks a return to racing for Lexus in North America and an opportunity for the company to build on its earlier success of three straight Rolex 24 victories between 2006 and 2008.
The driver line-up includes two British-born racers. Jack Hawksworth, 25, has been based in the USA since the 2012 season, competing in Indy racing series. He will pilot the No15 car alongside Dominik Farnbacher, who helped develop the car in VLN endurance racing series at the Nürburgring during 2016, Sage Karam and American star Scott Pruett – a Lexus veteran and brand ambassador who great success with the manufacturer stands at 22 race wins (including two Daytona victories) and two championship titles.
Hawksworth was pleased with the car’s pre-race testing and was the first driver to take the wheel. He said: “The car was really comfortable to drive. I also got a lot of laps in and that’s very important. We ended the day having learned quite a lot, we’ve really come a long way.”
The No14 RC F will be driven by Ian James, 42, whose extensive sportscar racing experience includes seasons with Lexus in the GrandAm series in North America and a third place finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans. Based in Arizona, James, born in Surrey and now an American citizen, was also Rookie of the Year in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2004. His co-pilots at Daytona will be Paul Gentilozzi, Gustavo Menezes and Austin Cindric.
The Michigan-based team (formerly known as F Performance Racing) was set up specifically to race the RC F GT3. This week it announced a sponsorship agreement with Mark Levinson, Lexus’s long-time supplier of bespoke premium audio systems for its road-going cars.
The RC F GT3 will also be competing in the GT300 category of Japan’s SuperGT series this year, entered by the LMCorsa team.
The Rolex 24 will get under way at 2.30pm local time this Saturday, 7.30pm UK time.