A Look at Long Beach ... Lexus and 3GT Racing recorded a season-best result of sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship race at Long Beach last month, and both Lexus RC F GT3s ran among the top-10 during much of the race. Teammates Sage Karam and Scott Pruett started at the back of the field after a practice incident damaged the No. 14 Lexus and they were able to work their way back to the team’s first top-10 result of the season. The No. 15 Lexus started the race second in the GTD class and Jack Hawksworth led five laps behind the wheel of the RC F GT3 midway through the race before turning over driver duties to teammate Robert Alon. Alon ran among the top-six during before being involved in a last-lap accident and the No. 15 Lexus finished 11th in the GTD class.
Two for Two at COTA … Scott Pruett returns to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) having won his previous two races at the Austin race track. Pruett earned back-to-back IMSA Prototype class wins at COTA in 2014 and 2015 – his first two starts at the Austin, Texas track that opened in 2012. Pruett teamed up with Memo Rojas in 2014 and led 21 laps (of 77) en route to the COTA victory, and in 2015 the veteran racer and teammate Joey Hand started from the pole position and led 59 laps (of 73) and won by a 16.9-second margin in the Prototype class. The Austin win in 2015 marked Pruett’s 60th-career victory – the most of any American sports car racer – and his last victory in IMSA competition. Pruett will team up with 22-year-old Sage Karam at COTA this weekend, where the young driver will make his first career start at the 20-turn circuit.
Still New to COTA … The duo of Robert Alon and Jack Hawksworth will both be making their second starts at Circuit of The Americas this weekend in the 3GT Racing No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3. Each driver has made one start at the 20-turn Texas circuit in the IMSA Prototype Challenge (PC) class. Alon won the pole position in the Prototype Challenge class last year at COTA and went on to earn a second-place finish in that race. The COTA pole was one of four poles Alon earned during the 2016 season competing in the PC class. Hawksworth made one start at the Austin circuit in 2014, finishing fifth in the PC class. Both Alon and Hawksworth have recorded back-to-back top-five starting spots in the GTD class with Alon wheeling the No. 15 Lexus to a fourth-place starting spot at Sebring and Hawksworth just missing the pole position at Long Beach and started second in class in the RC F GT3.
Lexus Moving to Texas … Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., will soon call Texas home later this year when the manufacturer completes its move to Plano, Texas as part of a larger relocation of Toyota and its North American corporate headquarters and operations. The new One Toyota campus, which is scheduled to be completed later this year, features an eco-friendly campus that spans 100 acres and will employ up to 4,000 team members, including 221 Lexus team members.
Lexus RC F GT3 Wins … Two new Lexus RC F GT3s were victorious in the season-opening International GT Open races in Estoril, Portugal last weekend. The Emil Frey Racing Lexus RC F GT3 entry with co-drivers Albert Costa and Phillip Frommenwiler won Saturday’s race and the Farnbacher Racing entry driven by brothers Dominik and Mario Farnbacher was victorious in Sunday’s event.
Winning Off the Track ...
Many technologies from Lexus’ racing initiatives have transferred to their production cars, including carbon fiber roofs, suspension design and vehicle handling characteristics. For Lexus in 2016, total F vehicle sales (GS F, RC F and formerly IS F) are 2,415. In addition to these models, many other Lexus vehicles offer F SPORT versions with enhanced bold styling and handling agility that are inspired by Lexus’ racing efforts, and F SPORT sales in 2016 totaled 60,269. The Lexus LC, the manufacturer’s world-class luxury coupe with a 10-speed transmission, will debut in dealerships across the country this month.
Keeping Pace with Lexus … Fans can keep up with Lexus Racing on Facebook
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Lexus Racing Quotes
SCOTT PRUETT, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
What is your outlook for COTA after having won the previous two times you raced there?
“I love going to COTA -- it is a fantastic facility. We won in '14 and '15, but in different ways. In 2014, we won because we played fuel strategy - I took the checkered flag and ran out of fuel going into turn one. In 2015, we just dominated. We had a very fast car and we just took off. Both were very different wins and both rewarding. We are optimistic that COTA will play to the strengths of our RC F GT3 and that, coupled with my knowledge of going to the track and my success coming away from there during my last two visits, will hopefully play to our strengths.”
SAGE KARAM, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3
Are you looking forward to racing your Lexus RC F GT3 at COTA?
“I’ve never even done a lap around COTA, so I can’t wait to get there. It’s a really nice race track here in the U.S., so I’m excited to get there and see that place and do some laps. I think my teammate (Scott) Pruett has won every time he’s raced there, so the pressure is on to keep the streak alive.”
ROBERT ALON, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
What does it take to be successful at COTA?
“Strategy always plays a big role. It did last year too. I don't think COTA is really a big yellow flag track, but there were a lot of yellows last year. I would say it's going to be hard for the faster classes to get by the slower classes. The track has little short straightaways and tight corners – it's hard to draft a lot of the time and you have to wait half a lap to get by a slower class. It reminds me a lot of Sebring, but without so many bumps and we were really strong at Sebring. I guess it's the same as all tracks in one way because you have to get the strategy right, make sure the car is right and then everything has to line up right to win. I know how great our Lexus RC F GT3 has felt in the last two races. It's been really strong and performed really well and, honestly, I just expect for it to continue performing in that way.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH, No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3
What is your outlook for the race at COTA in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3?
“I think COTA will suit our Lexus RC F GT3 a lot better than Long Beach did and we seemed to do alright there, so we expect to be strong at COTA. The track has a lot of fast corners and it’s very smooth and a really long course. The driver can make a good difference around there I think just because of the length of a lap. I think our Lexus should be suitable to the high speed corners. We are hoping for a good outcome.”