Lexus jumped into IMSA’s GT Daytona ring in 2017 with its RC F GT3 and has plans to replace the big V8-powered coupe with something new in the near future.
If the rumors are accurate, 2024 would be the year where Toyota’s luxury and performance brand makes the switch to a next-generation GT3 car, and based on what Toyota unveiled at the recent Tokyo Auto Salon show with the GR GT3 concept, we might have been given a glimpse of what to expect when the RC F GT3 is retired.
“The lessons we’ve learned on the GT3 side to really understand the landscape of sports car racing globally have served us well,” Toyota Racing Development president Dave Wilson told RACER. “And I think that index will bode well for the future, whether it’s GT3 or GT4 cars. On the GT3 front, I don’t have a definitive timeline and we’ve not made a definitive announcement.
“But you can connect the dots fairly easily in that when Toyota takes a car to the Tokyo Auto Salon, a ‘concept’ GT3 car, that’s certainly indicative of more than just putting a toe in the water.”
From a domestic perspective, the Lexus RC F GT3 has found success in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after it underwent numerous development and redevelopment efforts. Vasser Sullivan, the brand’s partner team in IMSA, has earned seven wins, nine poles, 18 podiums, and vied for the GTD title as recently as 2020. But there’s also no question as to whether a new, low-slung, supercar-style Lexus would have an easier time taking on Lamborghini, Ferrari, and the other staples in GT3-based competition.
“What has me truly so enthusiastic and excited, is after a number of fits and starts for Lexus as a sports car in the sports car arena over the past couple of decades, I really am thrilled with the fact that Lexus globally understands the role of sports car racing,” Wilson added. “That foundation is so important to building performance as an attribute to go along with luxury and quality that Lexus has nailed for decades.
“What I see is this foundation being very strong, very secure, and strategic thinking put towards a future of performance and racing for the brand. And obviously, we are looking forward to a successor to our RC F. And you can rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to try and accelerate any and all timelines. Hopefully, within the next year, we’ll be in a position to speak more definitively on that on that front.”
Wilson was also highly encouraged by the fleet of five Toyota GR Supra GT4s on the Daytona Michelin Pilot Challenge grid. Along with the ongoing planning for the next Lexus GT3 race car, growing Toyota’s presence in GT4 is another effort under development.
“We exceeded our own expectation with our GR Super GT4 car last year when we sold out our entire allocation,” he said. “I think we had 19 cars between IMSA and the SRO; we won a team championship and driver championship on the SRO GT4 Am side last year, winning multiple races, and I’m so proud of the job that the company did in bringing it to market with a competitive entrance in that class of racing.
“We’re looking forward to more great things on the GT4 side and selling more cars and having a greater measure of success on the IMSA side of the house. All things are good on that front.”