A tenacious crew and a dedicated team of drivers brought both brilliant blue chrome Lexus RC F GT3 cars to the finish line of the 65th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida in Sebring, Fla. This was the second race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the team.
The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 finished 13th in the GTD class, 28th overall. Piloted by Robert Alon, Jack Hawksworth and Austin Cindric. Hawksworth earned the fastest lap in the No. 15 and the second overall quickest lap in the GTD class with a lap of 2:01.674.
The No. 14 Lexus entry, driven by Scott Pruett, Sage Karam and Ian James, finished 18th in class, 35th overall, after a couple of mechanical issues forced the car to the garage for attention at the 3.74- mile, 17 turn historic Florida road course.
Paul Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing managing partner said: “It is hard to have a mechanical issue outside your control that takes you from the top five contention. We do know we are now close to the hunt and it motivates us even more to solve these new car issues.”
Both cars had impressive qualifying runs the day before, when they locked down fourth (No. 15) and fifth (No. 14) positions for race day. During qualifying, Alon, in the No. 15, had a best lap of 2:00:998. Not far behind in the No. 14, veteran driver Pruett turned in a lap of 2:01.158.
On race day, Alon and Pruett were the first drivers on the track in the gorgeous cars under a bright blue Florida sky. Pruett soon had the No. 14 car in third position, but struggles began by midway in the race and the car never made it back to a top ten position.
“Yes, we had some issues today, but that’s the nature of racing,” said Karam, who was driving when the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 began to experience some fuel issues. “The good thing here is that we completed the race and all of the drivers had a chance to get in some experience. The fuel issue was a shame because we were multiple laps down but we got back out there. But the car was performing really well before that happened.”
The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 maintained 5th and 6th positions in the GTD class for most of the race, but a necessary brake change during a pit stop, slowed the cars progression and a brake change eliminated the chances of a top finishing place.
“We ran in the top 5 pretty much all day, top 5 or 6, we were running really strong,” Hawksworth said. “We had the second quickest lap of the race, which shows how competitive we are. The boys on the crew did a really good job all day. We had the brake issue and that’s what threw the race away from us. I don’t know if we would have won, but I think we could have still been on the podium at the end. It’s just a bitter pill to swallow, but with a new program and new car we must expect it. I think with the pace we’ve shown here at Sebring, we’re going to do great.”
Next up for the team is BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, Calif., April 7-8.
ADDITIONAL DRIVER QUOTES:
Scott Pruett, No. 14, Lexus RC F GT3: “Whenever you have problems it’s disappointing. But we have to consider where the program is at. We’ve made a big step forward taking a checkered flag. And we’ve learned more about the car and the system. This is all part of development, you hate it, but you know that it’s just part of the program.”
Robert Alon, No. 15, Lexus RC F GT3: “We had a great race. Obviously, we ran into am issue with the brakes and had to swap them out, but overall, we had great pace. We qualified really and it’s a good morale booster for the rest of the season. We ran well all day. I don’t think any of the drivers did anything wrong, we did a great job. It’s disappointing but it shows great potential for future. We have a great car and we’re in a good place.”
Ian James, No. 14, Lexus RC F GT3: “We started off the race with pretty high hopes, unfortunately with the 14 car, things just kind of fell apart a little bit. But getting both Lexus cars to the finish – that’s a first for Lexus. Hopefully the guys have fun in the sprint races and I’ll come back for the last one. We learned a lot today. But it was really a good step in the right direction for the team and for Lexus and the car, I expect them to come back stronger.”
Austin Cindric, No. 15, Lexus RC F GT3: “I think in Daytona we showed the car’s potential and we ran it for 12 hours here in Sebring and I think we showed the car has a lot of speed. We definitely had a Lexus that was really capable of winning the race and that was definitely capable of a podium finish. A few bumps in the road, but for the sake of racing this car, I think it’s really positive. I’ve got to thank Paul (Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing team principal) and everybody for letting me be a part of this program. I’m excited for July to get to Watkins Glen and see what we can do and what these guys can do in the next few races to really step up this program, which I know they will.”
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 46 years and they have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.
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