Lexus announced the other week its motor sports partnership with Paul Gentilozzi and newly-formed F Performance Racing to field the RC F GT3 in a soon-to-be-announced sports car series. This new racing venture is part of the Lexus’ global motor sports effort that will see the Japanese luxury brand competing on tracks in the United States beginning in 2016. The new race vehicle is based on the production Lexus RC F high performance coupe that went on sale at the end of 2014.
“A core mission of F Performance Racing was to strengthen the Lexus’ F brand by applying lessons gleaned from racing, while nurturing an engineering culture that transfers that knowledge to dynamic, high performance passenger car development. We are very excited about what this partnership and race effort can mean for the brand in the years to come,” said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager, Lexus division.
Veteran driver and road racing legend Scott Pruett will pilot the RC F GT3, bringing a wealth of experience to bear during the vehicle development phase. F Performance Racing will campaign a limited schedule in 2016. In its inaugural year, the team’s primary focus will involve developing the race organization while gathering data and track experience to help further propel vehicle development. For the 2017/18 season, the plan calls for F Performance Racing and Pruett to participate in a full sports car racing schedule with a multi-vehicle effort.
Pruett and Lexus have a history of success both on and off-the-track. The Roseville, California native campaigned Lexus-powered prototypes from 2004-2007 in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Championship Series earning three driver championships and winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona overall in 2007. In fact, Pruett has won the 24 Hours of Daytona a total of five times, earned 12 class victories and a record 60 wins in American sports car competition. Beyond his on-track feats, Pruett was integral part of the development and global promotion of both the Lexus LFA supercar and the Lexus IS F performance sedan.
“When Lexus left motor sports, I pledged to them that I would be there to help them return when that time came,” said Pruett. “That time is now and I could not be more ecstatic to be representing Lexus as a performance brand ambassador and on the track in the F Performance RC F GT3.”
Gentilozzi competed in his first professional motor sports event 45 years ago. That NHRA drag racing event started a career that turned left and right into a significant road racing career resulting in five Trans Am driver championships with three different brands and virtually every record in the Trans Am history book. Gentilozzi also earned two Daytona 24 Hour class victories and an overall victory in the storied-event in 1994. On his path to more than 40 first place trophies, Gentilozzi’s teams accomplished three additional driver championships for Scott Pruett, Klaus Graf and Tomy Drissi and ten manufacturer championships in IMSA and Trans Am combined. Tony Gentilozzi joined the family business in 1994 and quickly became an accomplished championship engine builder taking teams to more than 50 wins and 100 podium finishes.
In the fall of 1998, John Gentilozzi joined the action, engineering multiple championships and team records. A true “family” powerhouse was formed through victories in Champ Car, IMSA, Grand Am and Trans Am competition.
The racing family is ready to embrace a new challenge. In early 2015, at the North American International Auto show, Lexus announced the brand would return to racing with its high performance RC F. The possibility of returning to the hotly contested GT ranks in 2016 with Lexus’ high performance niche brand was a race team’s dream. Given the brand’s commitment to competition, Lexus racecars are poised to develop a motor sports heritage through sports car racing around the world. Simply put, this is a “must do” challenge for F Performance Racing and Pruett.
“An opportunity to reunite with North America’s greatest sports car driver and a great friend, Scott Pruett and Lexus, a globally prestigious brand validating their performance potential, is a racer’s dream,” said Gentilozzi. The racing family patriarch continues, “One that would put an exclamation point on anyone’s motor sports career.”
Accepting the challenge of being part of a developing Lexus Motorsports heritage, both F Performance Racing and Pruett look to 2016 and beyond with great anticipation of the first on-track success for the RC F GT3.
Lexus launched in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since that time, Lexus has expanded its line-up to meet the needs of global luxury customers. Lexus is now going beyond its reputation for high quality vehicles with the integration of innovative technology, emotional exterior and interior designs, and engaging driving dynamics and performance. With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers eight F SPORT models and one F performance model.