Lexus and 3GT Racing will open the 2018 season at the Rolex 24 at Daytona beginning on Saturday. Returning to the GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for its second season, Lexus and 3GT Racing will look to build off its strides from year one and compete even stronger in 2018.
3GT Racing will again field two entries in the GTD class with both the No. 14 RC F GT3 and No. 15 RC F GT3 registered to compete for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team has its sights set for the Rolex 24 at Daytona where the No. 15 entry finished 14th in the GTD Class with a combined 26 laps led in its first race returning to American sports car racing a season ago.
This weekend’s race will mark the final event for Hall of Fame racer Scott Pruett after announcing earlier this month that he would retire following the Rolex 24. After 50 years behind the wheel of a race car, and with many championships and wins on his resume in all forms of motorsports, Pruett, 57, will step away from racing with a record 60 wins in American sports car competition, including a record-tying five overall victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He is a four-time Rolex Grand-Am Champion (2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012) and a two-time IMSA champion (1986 and 1988). Pruett will continue his partnership with Lexus as a brand ambassador moving forward. He was a part of the launch of the Lexus F performance brand a decade ago, assisting in the development and promotion of the Lexus IS F performance sedan and Lexus LFA supercar.
There will be three new faces in the 3GT Racing program for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
With Pruett only racing in the Rolex 24 in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3, 2017 teammate Jack Hawksworth will be the only returning full-time driver with 3GT Racing this season. Joining Hawksworth in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 will be David Heinemeier Hansson. Hansson has raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the past six seasons.
Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli will pilot the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 in the GTD class for the full 2018 season. Baumann, who is coming off a class win at the 24h Dubai earlier this month, will race in America for the first time after having won the 2016 Blacpain GT Series championship, which he also competed in last season. Marcelli won a Pirelli World Challenge SprintX race in 2016, earned a class win in the 10-hour Petit Le Mans in 2013 and has experience running in IMSA and the American Le Mans Series.
Joining the 3GT full-time lineup in the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be four ironmen led by Pruett and returning teammate, Dominik Farnbacher, who will co-drive the No. 15 Lexus entry. Farnbacher is a two-time Rolex 24 class winner, and led 15 laps in the debut of the RC F GT3 at Daytona last January. Farnbacher won twice in an RC F GT3 in the GT Open in Europe last year. Also joining the 3GT Racing team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the No. 14 Lexus are drivers Philipp Frommenwiler and Bruno Junqueira. Junqueira is an eight-time CART race winner and has five sports car victories in IMSA and American Le Mans series competition. Frommenwiler is no stranger to the seat of a Lexus RC F GT3, having won four times in Europe’s International GT Open with Emil Frey Racing last season, and is set to make his start at Daytona.
Lexus Racing Quotes
Jack Hawksworth, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
What is the key to having a good result in a 24-hour race like the Rolex 24 at Daytona?
“If you want to have any chance of winning or getting even a good result you have to be pretty flawless running your car. You can’t have any major dramas and if you do, you better recover from them pretty quickly. Hopefully, we can just have a solid race with no drama, which is easier said than done. And, then, at the end of the race I think we’ll have a car that is fast enough and in good enough condition to go racing and have a go at trying to do well. We’re here to try and win the race, but with 24 hours you can be super prepared and you can have everything covered and it could all go wrong still. So, I think all we can really do is try and do our bit as best as we know how to do it and put ourselves in a good position.”
David Heinemeir Hansson, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
What is your outlook for the Rolex 24 competing in the Lexus RC F GT3 for the first time?
“I think we’re going to win. We have a strong car that’s been through a whole year of development with drivers that have driven the car before. I have a car stacked full of pro drivers who have driven this particular car before. I’ve driven at the Rolex a billion times. I’m feeling really comfortable and confident that we have a package that can compete for the win. There are so many things that need to come together of course. I think for a team to be great you need to have a good diversity and variety of drivers. You need to have people who have just been here, seen everything and done everything and younger talent who are just hungry to win. So, I think we have a really strong package that encapsulates everything.”
Scott Pruett, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
What does it meant to compete in your last race in an event you have been so successful in?
“I have so many great memories at Daytona. Daytona is a magical place. I love it. What better way to say good?bye to a sport I love than at this revered place surrounded by my respected peers and diehard fans. I’m so excited about the next chapter of my life and so excited about getting on the track here at the Rolex 24.”
Dominik Farnbacher, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
How beneficial is it to have experience in the RC F GT3 coming into this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona?
“If you compare both cars from last year to this year here at Daytona the biggest issue was we couldn’t really turn into the corner. This is solved now and I think it’s a good starting point in order to make our Lexus drive better and maybe faster than all the other cars. The RC F GT3s are well prepped and you get in the car and just drive and everything is sorted out and that makes it very easy for us drivers to feel comfortable. It’s a good team to be a part of and it’s a good recipe for success.”
Dominik Baumann, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Do you feel confident heading into your first Rolex 24 at Daytona race having never run the circuit before?
“I think the No. 14 RC F GT3 is pretty strong with our lineup. The race is so long we just have to get through it and not make any mistakes and stay out of trouble. We are confident right now going into the race weekend.”
Kyle Marcelli, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Do you take a different approach going into a 24-hour race compared to other races throughout the season?
“The goal for the season is certainly podiums and wins, but for here at Daytona for the Rolex 24 outright speed is not necessarily our main focus but more it’s about reliability and consistency. A lot can happen in 24 hours and you’ve just got to be there in the final two hours to race for the win.”
Philipp Frommenwiler, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Are you looking forward to racing in your first Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend?
“I was racing in IMSA in 2014, but never raced at Daytona. Being back in IMSA racing is really good. I think we have a really good driver lineup. I’m really happy with that and I think for us we are ready and let’s see what we do in the 24 hours.”
Bruno Junqueira, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, 3GT Racing
What has your experience been like so far with the Lexus RC F GT3 and what is your outlook for the Rolex 24?
“I think the team is doing a good job and the Lexus has been reliable. It’s been very good so far. I’ve raced the 24 many times and it’s nice to be back. It’s a great race and I’m looking forward to being back this year with 3GT Racing.”