Why does Lexus go racing? This program is driven by the goal of developing technologies, capabilities, component ideas and performance philosophies that can be implemented both on the track, and in production Lexus F and F SPORT vehicles. As Mark Egger, Lexus Motorsports Manager says, "What we learn at the race track truly helps us build better cars... it is the ultimate proving ground."
Why did Lexus select the IMSA GT Daytona class (known globally as GT3 – but in the United States, the GT3 Class is called GTD, which stands for GT Daytona)? "We chose that class because it is the class that is closest to the cars customers can drive. We felt Lexus owners and fans could relate to the Lexus RC F GT3 race cars on the track and on the road."
Steve Hallam, TRD Senior Race Team Manager, added, "This is the class where manufacturers race against one another in cars that appear on the road in a performance-balanced environment... and this being our first year, we started at ground zero and have come a long way in a very short period of time."
Something else sets the Lexus RC F GT3 race cars apart for their competitors: The RC F is more attainable than competitors like the Lamborghini Huracan, Ferrari 488, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R and Acura NSX—all of which command a healthy six-figure price tag.
Mr. Takeshi Yoshida, Lexus Managing Officer, states that Lexus is all about, "A capacity to continuously and relentlessly acquire and apply knowledge to evolve and innovate." Nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to racing.
Racing is nothing new to Lexus—it's in our DNA.
When Lexus was first introduced, its strength was luxury. But that changed with the introduction of the rear-wheel drive IS series, and to demonstrate its performance prowess, Lexus took it to the race track. Mark Egger added, "The best thing about racing, it tests the endurance of a car... it's a rolling testbed that ultimately makes our production cars better, more fun to drive and more aggressive looking." The IS 300 validated that statement by winning the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Touring Championship in 2002.
Lexus has also competed in the exclusive Prototype class, winning three consecutive Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, two Team Championships and a Drivers' Championship.
Lexus has also been involved in off-road racing, entering an LX 570 in the 1,000-mile race in Baja, and winning it three times in a row.
All of this proves that the Lexus pursuit of perfection is not just a marketing slogan, it's a way of life.
3GT Racing out of Lansing, Michigan is the privately-owned team that fields two Lexus RC F GT3's this season. The team owner, Paul Gentilozzi, has over 47 years of racing experience in everything from IMSA sports cars to NASCAR stock cars and NHRA drag racers. In fact, Paul is a five-time Trans-Am Champion, and held multiple drag racing records. Paul is joined by his two sons, John and Tony. FYI: "3GT" stands for the "Three Gentilozzi Team"—it's just coincidental that they race in what is known globally as the GT3 class.
Paul took the lead role when it came to recruiting the drivers. He said, "Being a race driver for 47 years, it's hard to hire other drivers, so we came up with a driving test and invited 11 drivers to see how they would perform. I told them up front, if you can't beat my time, odds are good you're not going to make the team."
After the test, team members were selected, including Scott Pruett, Robert Alon, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth and Austin Cindric. Paul added, "Scott is easily the best sports car driver in America. Robert Alon was a natural fit—he's a sponge for soaking up information and learning from experience. And Austin, I watched him drive, then talked to him afterwards. He handled himself as maturely as any driver... and he was only 17 at the time!"
Together, the 3GT Racing Team has already been a force to be reckoned with, which is amazing for a first-year team.
The Lexus RC F GT3 race cars represent a global effort. The cars themselves are built in Japan by Toyota Technocraft Co. Ltd. (the Japanese source for TRD performance parts and accessories) with input from Toyota Motorsports Gmbh in Germany. This global alliance was formed because the GT3 Class is an international class, and RC F GT3s are also raced in Asia and Europe as well as the United States. TRD USA's role in this racing effort is to act as the interface between 3GT Racing and the two Toyota divisions. As Steve said, "We provide the feedback to Japan so they can consolidate their understanding of how the car is performing so we can continue refining and perfecting these cars."
These cars have specific requirements:
The 2017 racing season marked the debut of the Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT3/GTD Class. Other manufacturers, like Porsche, for example, have been racing in the GT3 class for over 20 years. The idea of starting a Lexus team was birthed in 2015, and started in earnest in 2016, "and every day is a learning experience," added Steve.
The Lexus RC F GT3 competes in a homologated class. Steve explains, "In this class, once the FIA homologated the car, that 'freezes' the spec of the car, which allows Toyota Technocraft to start production to that fixed specification. Then the car goes to the race team where they race the car within the set-up required by IMSA. They can evolve the set-up by adjusting camber, toe, springs and the wing—but basically, they have to race what was approved by IMSA. At TRD, our goal is to provide feedback to Japan because once every three years, we are allowed to upgrade the car."
"It was a learning effort for us, too," added Paul. "We learned all about the '5 Why' process when a Lexus engineer said, 'take 100 pounds off the front springs,' then proceeded asking 'why' five times, which was new to us." The '5 Why' process is part of the Toyota Way and involves identifying an issue, then asking why it is an issue. Once that is answered, you ask 'why' that was the case—continuing to drill down until you've asked 'why' five times. This ultimately helps lead to the root cause, and allows participants to develop the ideal solution.
Mark sums it up best saying, "Racing builds excitement and with the Lexus RC F GT3, we can provide our customers with a premier experience, whether it's watching them race on the track or driving one on the road."
Like all TRD parts, when it comes to TRD Alloy Wheels, there is a difference—and it's that difference that makes them the best choice for Toyota and Lexus owners. First and foremost, TRD Wheels are designed by the same team that designed the OE wheels, so you know they incorporate the proper weight, offset and brake clearance to ensure proper fit, finish, performance and reliability. Second, the engineers used advanced CAD Design techniques to ensure TRD wheels optimize the strength-to-weight ratios by putting the aluminum material in the right place.
Here are some additional benefits of TRD Alloy Wheels:
TRD Alloy Wheels—simply the best.