Lexus and 3GT Racing competed in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday. The 10-hour endurance event closed out the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 11-race season for the Lexus RC F GT3.
The No. 15 Lexus finished 10th in the GTD class with 3GT Racing drivers Jack Hawksworth, David Heinemeier Hansson and Sean Rayhall. Hawksworth qualified second for Saturday’s race and the No. 15 led 23 laps around the 12 turn, 2.54-mile Georgia road course. The trio raced in the top-six for much of the race until an issue with the brakes in the closing hours resulted in a 10th-place finish.
The 3GT Racing No. 14 Lexus entry finished 11th in class after mechanical issues forced the RC F GT3 to the paddock midway through the event. Dominik Baumann, Kyle Marcelli and Philipp Frommenwiler took turns driving the No. 14 Lexus that was out front of the GTD field for two circuits in the race.
During the 2018 IMSA season, the pair of Lexus RC F GT3s collected two wins (Mid-Ohio and VIR), three podiums, four pole positions and ran six of the fastest laps in 11 GTD class events. Hawksworth led the GTD class with a series-best four pole awards.
Lexus ends its second season competing in IMSA’s GTD class fifth in the manufacturer championship standings.
The Lexus RC F GT3 returns to racing action on January 26 and 27 at the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway.
JACK HAWKSWORTH, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
How was your race in the Lexus RC F GT3 today?
“Our day started off really well. The car balance was very, very good. We were surprisingly very good over the long runs. The Lexus was competitive on old tires, which is something we struggled with (this season). I was very optimistic after the first couple of stints. Led the race for quite a long time during the first two or three hours and then various things got us throughout the day. And, then at the end, we completely lost our brakes. That was the day really. Obviously, the brakes going was kind of the nail in the coffin. The guys did a good job. Our Lexus was really fast, it just wasn’t our day.”
DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
How was your race today at Road Atlanta?
“My stints were great today. The car was super quick, so as long as it was working, it was a rocket ship. Unfortunately, we had some issues along the way and we couldn’t make it to the end on the brakes, so that was a bummer. We showed we definitely had the pace and I think we led quite a few laps with Jack (Hawksworth) in the car and when I was out there, the car was as quick as it was going to be. Got to do a bunch of fun passes and compete. It’s just a shame we couldn’t compete for the win at the end.”
SEAN RAYHALL, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
How was your race today in the RC F GT3 at Road Atlanta?
“This is my favorite race of the season. It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did. 3GT Racing gave us a great Lexus RC F. It was really fast. We struggled a little bit during the daytime, but man the car was really coming alive there right before we started to have some gremlins. I’m just really thankful to be a part of this project, be a part of this team and to finish out this season with a strong effort. Really proud of all the guys.”
DOMINIK BAUMANN, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Can you talk about your race?
“Qualifying was not the best and we started the race P8, but I made up some places at the beginning of the race. I did a double stint and our Lexus felt great. I think one of the best runs we had all weekend. I had some good fights out there and looked promising going further into the race. We did a pit stop, I got back in the car, and then I lost a wheel going out of the box. I don’t know what really happened. I tried to bring the car back, but I just had no drive. It didn’t accelerate and we maybe damaged the car trying to come back and it had to go on the tow truck to bring the car back and had to retire the race, unfortunately.”
What has your first season been like racing in America?
“Coming to America was always a dream for me. We started having some good moments at the endurance races, but then some bad luck. It was a great year for me. I got to know a lot of good people, so I could check it off my list and I did it. I would come back because it was always nice traveling, although the travel can be hard sometimes. Overall, it was a great year for me, and I really enjoyed it. The highs we had were always great. The two wins at Mid-Ohio and VIR, where we really fought for the win and we deserved it. Knowing the results from last year, I think we improved on everything. The team, the mechanics, the car and the drivers. It was just everything was on point every weekend. We got better and better. The second place at Mosport was great too with great driving from Kyle (Marcelli) during that last stint. Getting to victory lane was well deserved for the team and I will remember this year for a long time.”
KYLE MARCELLI, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Can you talk about the 2018 season now that it has ended?
“It’s a bittersweet way to end the season. It’s been a season full of highs and lows. We had a good amount of success in the sprint races with two victories and a second place. I think 3GT Racing and Lexus should be happy with those results. The endurance races have not been our friend this year. We’ve always shown good pace, but it seems it didn’t matter if it was a 24 hour race, a 12 hour race or a 10 hour race, hour six seems to get us. Everybody gives it their best. There’s certainly nothing left on the table. Today we had a pretty good race car. We were fighting in the top-five for the first six hours. It’s been a lot of fun to work with Dominik (Baumann) for the season and to have Philipp Frommenwiler join us for the endurance races, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates. John (Gentilozzi), I have to say thank you to him. He’s wonderful on the box. He’s a really good voice in your head and it’s been fun to work with him and everyone at 3GT Racing and Lexus.”
PHILIPP FROMMENWILER, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Have you enjoyed your time racing the RC F GT3 with 3GT Racing in the IMSA endurance events this year?
“Yes, absolutely. I’ve enjoyed my experience a lot this year. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luck on our side in the endurance races. That’s part of endurance racing. The guys had the success in the sprint races. I think we always had the pace to be in the front, but unfortunately endurance racing ends after 10, 12 or 24 hours and not after two or three hours. I hope to get another chance to get the trophy next time.”
MARK EGGER, Lexus Motorsports Manager
How would you evaluate the second season for the Lexus Racing program following the season-finale at Road Atlanta?
“We’re excited to wrap up our second season with quite a few accomplishments for the RC F GT3 this season, including the first North American victory earlier this year. Three podiums, two wins, four poles and six of the quickest GTD laps showcased the pace and performance of the RC F GT3. We just want to thank everybody on the 3GT Racing team and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and our marketing partners at IMSA for a great season. We look forward to a strong 2019 as we continue to develop the RC F GT3 race car.”