Bittersweet ending to 2018 IMSA season for 3GT Racing
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 13, 2018) – The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 took the checkered flag at the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga, finishing tenth. The final moments of the 10-hour race found the No. 15, driven by Jack Hawksworth at the back of the GTD class, despite a beginning that looked promising.
The early hours of the endurance race included Hawksworth in the lead in the No. 15 and the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 fighting in the top five for the first five hours.
Hawksworth, who qualified P2 on Friday, earned third fastest lap of the race with his qualifying lap of 1:19:732.
“Our day started off really well,” Hawksworth said. “The car balance was very good. We were surprisingly good over the long runs. The Lexus was competitive on old tires which is something we struggled with (this season). I was very optimistic after the first couple of stints. Led the race for quite a long time during the first two or three hours and then various things got to us and at the end we had one of the calipers explode and we completely lost our brakes. Obviously, the brakes going was kind of the nail in the coffin. The crew did a good job. It just wasn’t our day.”
Hawksworth’s co-driver, David Heinemeier Hansson, said he was disappointed with the end of the race, but he was also thrilled with the stints he drove, agreeing with Hawksworth that the early hours were best.
“My stints were great today. The car was super quick so as long as it was working it was a rocket ship but, unfortunately, we had some issues along the way and we couldn’t make it to the end on the brakes so that was a bummer,” he said. “We showed we definitely had the pace and I think we led quite a few laps with Jack (Hawksworth) in the car and when I was out there the car was as quick as it was going to be. Got to do a bunch of fun passes and compete. It’s just a shame we couldn’t compete for the win at the end.”
The No. 14 car did not finish after mechanical issues forced the car out of the race after the halfway point. Dominik Baumann qualified the No. 14 on Friday, starting the race P8, but quickly moved up through the traffic when the race began at 11:05 a.m.
“Qualifying was not the best,” Baumann said. “But I knew I could make up some places at the beginning of the race. I did a double stint and our Lexus felt great. I had some good fights out there and it felt promising that we’d go further into the race. We did a pit stop and I got back in the car and then I lost a wheel going out of the box. I don’t know what really happened. I tried to bring the car back, but I just had no drive. It didn’t accelerate, and the car may have been damaged trying to come back. It had to go on the tow truck and we had to retire the race unfortunately.”
3GT Racing Technical Director, John Gentilozzi, said he gives full credit to the No. 14 crew for fighting through everything, but it became apparent that retiring the car was the right decision.
“It was a tough deal with the No. 14 car but going any further with it wouldn’t have changed the position in points, so it was better not to take a risk with the car, and perhaps someone else’s race,” Gentilozzi said. “As for the No. 15 car, it was running really well, unfortunately the brake wear was a little faster than we thought, and we had to make that change for the brakes which pretty much put us at the back. But we took the checkered flag for 3GT Racing and for Lexus. We start looking forward to next season.”
No. 14 co-driver, Kyle Marcelli, called the race a bittersweet way to end the season.
“It’s really been a season full of highs and lows,” he said. “We had a good amount of success in the sprint races with two victories and a second-place podium. I think 3GT Racing and Lexus should be happy with those results. The endurance races have not been our friend this year. Everybody gives it their best. There’s certainly nothing left on the table. Today we had a pretty good race car. We were fighting in the top-five for the first six hours. It’s been a lot of fun to work with Dominik (Baumann) for the season and to have Philipp Frommenwiler join us for the endurance races, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates.”
Endurance drivers, Philipp Frommenwiler in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 and Sean Rayhall in the No. 15, were both happy to be part of the race and disappointed in the final standings.
“I’ve enjoyed my experience a lot this year,” said Frommenwiler who also raced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and at Sebring. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luck on our side in the endurance races. That’s part of endurance racing. The guys had the success in the sprint races.”
“This is my favorite race of the season. It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did. 3GT Racing gave us a great Lexus RC F. It was really fast. We struggled a little bit during the day time, but man the car was really coming alive there right before we started to have some gremlins,” Rayhall said. “I’m just really thankful to be a part of this project, be a part of this team and to finish out this season with a strong effort. Really proud of all the guys.”
The season ends for the No. 14 and No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 having earned two wins in the No. 14, Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course and Virginia International Raceway and a second-place podium at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Jack Hawksworth earned four pole positions and the team finished top five in more than half of this year’s races and earned six of the quickest GTD race laps (five by Hawksworth and one by Baumann).
3GT Racing Managing Partner Paul Gentilozzi said this last race, the Motul Petit Le Man, was a tough race and it would have been better had it been two hours shorter.
“It should be called the 10-hour adventure of Petit Le Mans,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s getting to be every bit as tough a race as Sebring. It’s a 10-hour sprint race and we led, we were fast, but we didn’t finish well. That makes it a failure in my book. But we’ll move on. Lots of good stuff coming. The thing about racing is that you remember your last race until your next race. And then we’ll forget all of this. And it just can’t come soon enough for me.”
About 3GT Racing
3GT Racing was formed to race the Lexus RC F GT3. Owned and operated by five-time Trans-Am Series Champion, Paul Gentilozzi and his longtime partners, Tony and John Gentilozzi, the East Lansing, Michigan-based team principals have been involved in motorsports for more than 48 years and have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.