RC F GT3s Lead Laps, No. 15 Lexus Finishes Fifth At Sebring
The 3GT Racing No. 15 Lexus scored a fifth-place GTD class finish in the Twelve Hours of Sebring in mid-March at Sebring International Raceway, matching the best result for the RC F GT3 in IMSA competition. The 12-hour race marked the second endurance event of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and both Lexus race cars began the weekend with strong qualifying efforts at the historic Florida road course, with the No. 15 starting third and the No. 14 in fourth.
The No. 15 team debuted a new red livery and led the GTD field for 45 laps in the first six hours of the race, including 40 laps led by Jack Hawksworth and five circuits by David Heinemeier Hansson.
“It was a fantastic beginning of the race,” said Hawksworth. “I took the lead immediately and fortunately was able to control the race at that point.”
Nearing the mid-way point of the race however, the No. 15 team experienced a few issues and fell back to 14th place and two laps down in the GTD class. In his final stints of the event, Hawksworth commanded the Lexus from 14th place to finish fifth at the historic Florida road course.
“I thought we were going to finish 14th, but this is the magic of racing in IMSA,” said Heinemeier Hansson. “The right amount of luck with yellows can bring you back in contention. When Jack (Hawksworth) got back on the lead lap, he just put it down and we went to fifth, which is an amazing finish given the issues that we had.”
Hawskworth ran the third-quickest lap of the race for the GTD class on Lap 4 (of 321 laps).
Endurance racer Sean Rayhall joined Hawksworth and Heinemeier Hansson in the No. 15 Lexus at Sebring and the 22-year-old Georgia native will also join 3GT Racing at the season-finale Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
“From all of the adversity, to come back and finish fifth, that definitely shows how good this 3GT Racing team and this Lexus RC F is,” said Rayhall after the 12-hour event. “It felt good driving the Lexus and we definitely had some pace there, so I’m looking forward to Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.”
The No. 14 RC F GT3 ran the quickest single circuit of the race in the GTD class with 3GT Racing driver Dominik Baumann behind the wheel, also on Lap 4 of the 12-hour endurance event.
“We tuned our Lexus to be good in the long stints and we were less concerned about one lap outright pace and more concerned about the pace over a long run and for the first six hours we were either first, second or third place and it was looking good and everything was running smooth,” said Kyle Marcelli.
The No. 14 Lexus led eight circuits in class and went on to record a 14th-place finish after having an issue with the hood midway through the race. “I think we had a car for the podium,” added Baumann of the No. 14 Lexus. “It’s hard to get a lap back this year because the level of drivers is so strong. We improved a lot over the weekend. We did a lot of setup work, it’s a good direction and the Lexus did a good job.”
Endurance racer Philipp Frommenwiler led seven laps in the No. 14, while Kyle Marcelli was out front of the GTD field once.
“From our standpoint, we are happy to see both Lexus RC F GT3s finish the race at Sebring with competitive speed,” said Jeff Bracken, group VP and general manager, Lexus Division. “We qualified well and then raced competitively and we’re pleased to see both running a consistent pace in the first two endurance events of the season. We look forward to going to Mid-Ohio for the first time where we expect to do even better.”
Lexus and 3GT Racing will next compete in the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Showdown at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, May 6. It will mark the first sprint race of the season and the first time the Lexus RC F GT3s will compete at the 2.4-mile road course with the return of sports car racing to the Ohio circuit.
Content and Photo source: LEXUS