DAYTONA, Fla. (January 29, 2018) – The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3, with driver Jack Hawksworth at the wheel, finished P9 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The No. 14 finished P15, with new driver Kyle Marcelli taking the car over the finish line.
Hawksworth, who had qualified the car and began the race at P3, said he was happy to bring home the top-10 finish and to get some points early on, but he’s convinced the team and the cars are prepared for better finishes as the season progresses.
“With all of the testing we’ve done up to this point, I could tell pretty early in the race that the grip and the balance of the car was not as good as it had been in the practice,” said Hawksworth. “I struggled a little bit in the beginning and then dropped back a bit. Then, as the night came in it got a little bit better and I felt a little bit stronger. Obviously, we had some issues towards the end with a bit of contact with a GTLM car and then we had the incident in Turn 5 and that really hurt the balance of the car.”
The Turn 5 incident occurred when Hawksworth’s co-pilot, David Heinemeier Hansson, took the No. 15 into a tire wall just two laps before he was due to come in for a driver change. DHH acknowledged having a few struggles in his first stint driving when it began to rain.
“This is the first time I’ve made it to the end of Daytona,” he said. “It’s much easier when you finish after 10 or 12 hours. But that first stint – when the rain started – was a new experience for me and I definitely struggled. The afternoon was much better until two laps before I came in. The race, for me, was definitely a baptism by fire.”
Hawksworth, who drove for nine hours, said that after the incident at Turn 5, the damage to the front caused the car to act a bit like a sail, making the straights a little slower, but smooth on the slow speed corners. He was very happy with the crew.
“The guys did a really good job with the pit stops and everyone stuck it out to the end,” Hawksworth said. “It’s really easy to lose your head in a situation when things are kind of going against you a little bit, but we kept our heads up, kept on battling and came away with a top-10, so we’ll take that.”
Dominik Baumann, one of the entirely new team of drivers on the No. 14, qualified P6 in the Lexus RC F GT3 and took the car from sixth to the lead in the early laps of the race. This was Baumann’s first race in the U.S., earlier he was the class winner in Dubai’s 24-hour race.
“After the technical problem early, it made it hard for us to show what we really can do in the Lexus RC F GT3,” he said. “I think we could finish top 5 easy, so we have to work on it keep pushing and show what the car and drivers can do.”
Kyle Marcelli, co-driver in the No. 14, noted that the race was particularly grueling because it was nearly green flag for the entire 24 hours.
“Only three cautions, only 20 laps of nearly 800 under yellow,” he said. “Hats off to the drivers and teams for keeping it safe. It was a flawless job, just goes to show the level of competition. We got really excited after qualifying – qualifying 3 and 6 – felt pretty good. But the temperature was a lot different come race time. We picked up some understeer, didn’t quite have the same pace that the car had in practice and in qualifying. But if you look at the whole race, the drivers and team pretty much executed a flawless race. No major penalties, no major mistakes. We had one hiccup at hour six, but all in all a really good job. Half the battle of these 24-hour races is just finishing.”
The Rolex 24 at Daytona was not only the kickoff to the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, but the race was also the last for veteran sports car driver Scott Pruett, who announced during the Roar Before the 24 that the endurance race would be his last.
Pruett is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The longtime sports car champion drove last year with 3GT Racing in both the No. 14 and No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 cars. He and 3GT Racing’s Managing Partner, Paul Gentilozzi, have been friends for more than 30 years.
Gentilozzi said he is still having a hard time believing that Scott Pruett is retiring. In 1994, he and Pruett teamed up with Butch Leitzinger to win the overall Rolex 24 at Daytona. And together, Pruett and Gentilozzi, earned two class wins at Daytona, and Pruett won a TransAm Championship while driving for Gentilozzi.
“I still don’t believe it,” Gentilozzi said. “For 30-plus years, Scott’s been a competitor, a co-driver, a friend. You don’t often have competitors who are friends, but he’ll be a friend for life.”
As for 3GT Racing’s finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Gentilozzi said he plans to take the lessons learned during the grueling race to heart and get ready for the next race.
“We raced for 24 hours with everybody else, we raced really hard. We learned a lot about our team and our drivers and our cars. So, I’m going to take away that satisfaction. This is not the end we want. But when you look at yourself and say ‘Well, we could have won.’ Yes, we could have won, but so could three or four other teams. Everybody has their good and bad luck. I’m happy with the team we have. We’re going to celebrate and focus on Sebring.”
Next up for the 3GT Racing team is The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 17 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
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.
Brenda Brissette Mata
DAYTONA, Fla. (January 25, 2018) — 3GT Racing’s Lexus RC F GT3s qualified in 4th (No. 15) and 6th (No. 14), at Daytona International Speedway in a 15-minute qualifying session for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Jack Hawksworth qualified the No. 15 P4 with a best lap of 1:46:714. During the second practice, earlier in the day, Hawksworth earned fastest lap.
“I really enjoyed the session,” Hawksworth said. “It was probably the most enjoyable qualifying session I’ve had in this car – just from a personal perspective. I felt like I put my laps together nicely. Quite often I come away from a session thinking something went wrong here or there, but I came away from that one thinking it was pretty darned good.”
Dominik Baumann finished 6P in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 with a fastest lap of 1:47:186. Earlier this month, Baumann earned fastest lap during the night test at The Roar Before the 24, and later raced in the 24H Dubai where he took first in class.
The 2016 Blancpain GT series champion, Baumann said he had a little trouble negotiating the traffic at the beginning of the qualifying session, but he quickly found his rhythm and moved ahead.
“The car was really good. I like the car a lot,” he said. “After practice, we worked together and spent a lot of time to make the car better. And, it was my first qualifying with the car. It all still feels new. But I think it’s a good starting point for the race. And I’m ready.”
3GT Racing’s Managing Partner said he was very satisfied with the team’s qualifying results.
“Qualifying at Daytona is important to the team, not important to how you finish,” he said. “I feel like our 4th and 6th place combination was really outstanding. We know that there are several cars in the field that have a BOP (Balance of Performance) that allowed them great straight line. We have cars that handle and perform and I’m very satisfied.”
The 24-hour endurance race will start at 2:40 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, January 27 and end at 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, and televised live on Fox stations, including FS1, FS2. The full race will be available on the Fox Sports GO app.
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 47 years and have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.
Brenda Brissette Mata
DAYTONA, Fla. (January 24, 2018) — The 2018 IMSA season opener this weekend, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, marks the second year of 3GT Racing fielding two Lexus RC F GT3 in the GTD class.
The 2017 inaugural year was a time for learning. It began with last year’s Rolex – an arduous 24 hours – but by the season’s end, the team had amassed multiple fastest laps and the first pole, for the No. 14, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“We are excited to be back here at Daytona with the Lexus RC F GT3 during the tenth year of the Lexus F Performance brand,” said Paul Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing’s Managing Partner. “We really learned a lot last time we were here, and we feel like we can improve it by taking those lessons on-board. We’re really happy with the driver line-up that we have, and we really think they give us the best chance to win.”
Returning for 2018, are drivers Jack Hawksworth and veteran sports car champion, Scott Pruett. The Hall of Famer, who has been racing for 50 years, announced at The Roar Before the 24 earlier this month, that the 2018 Rolex would be his last race.
“When I look at where we were a year ago, and where we were this year – when we were at The Roar a couple of weeks ago – well, it’s like night and day,” Pruett said. “We have learned so much about the car over the last season. We knew going into The Rolex last year that it was our first race and we had so much to learn. It was a steep learning curve. Now we are significantly more prepared and have more understanding for this race. And I’m excited for this race. I have so many great achievements and great memories there. What better race to call my last race, than this one.”
Hawksworth said Pruett has been a great teammate and he’s learned a lot from him. As the 2018 season kicks off, Hawksworth is looking forward to getting to know the new drivers and he’s focused on a winning year.
“It’s nice to be going back for a second year with 3GT and with the Lexus RC F GT3. So far, the prep for the race has been very smooth and we’re happy with what we learned at The Roar,” Hawksworth said. “As for the drivers, the only guys I’ve worked with before are Scott Pruett, Dominik Farnbacher and I’ve done some races with Bruno Junqueira. The new guys all seem great. Now, it’s just about getting used to how we work together.”
Hawksworth’s co-pilot in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 will be David Heinemeier Hansson. Heinemeier Hansson is no stranger to the Gentilozzi family race team, he raced with them in 2013 and 2014. He is well known in the racing community. He earned 20 podiums and six wins in 45 FIA World Endurance Championship races, and four podiums and a class win in Le Mans.
Dominik Farnbacher will round out the No. 15 team, returning this year as an endurance driver in The Rolex and the other additional endurance races; 12 Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and the Petit Le Mans. Farnbacher, alongside his brother, Mario, drove the Lexus RC F GT3 in the International GT Open in 2017, earning two wins and five podiums in 17 races.
Philipp Frommenwiler of Switzerland also drove the Lexus RC F GT3 in the International GT Open, earning third place in the Drivers’ Championship and third place overall. In 2017, with the Emil Frey Racing team, Frommenwiler finished first overall in the GT Open at SPA and Estoril. Frommenwiler joins the 3GT Racing team as an endurance driver in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 alongside eight-time IndyCar race winner Bruno Junqueira, of Brazil. Junqueira has 26 wins in his long career.
The No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 will be co-piloted by Canadian Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann of Austria. Both drivers took their first laps in the Lexus RC F GT3 during The Roar Before the 24, last month at Daytona International Speedway. Bauman earned the fastest lap during the night test at The Roar.
Earlier this month, Baumann, the 2016 Blancpain GT series champion, took first in class at the 24H Dubai race. He said he’s looking forward to The Rolex and believes he got a good sense of the car while at The Roar and that the 24H Dubai gave him a good idea of what it takes to drive a 24-hour endurance race.
“I really liked the feel of the Lexus at The Roar,” he said. “It was easy to understand. And I think the first place in the night practice showed how quickly I got used to the car. The 24 hours in Dubai really helped me get used to a 24-hour schedule. I think I’m ready for Daytona.”
Hawksworth said he knows the team is in a much better position now than last year at this time.
“It was our first race last year and everything was an unknown,” he said. “We didn’t know how reliable the car was. This year we expect to have much better performance. We’ve done many long-distance races, more testing, more miles with the car and the chemistry with the engineers, mechanics and crew is in place. We work like a well-oiled machine.”
The Rolex 24 at Daytona race will begin with the fall of the green flag at 2:40 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27. The race will be telecast on Fox stations including FS1, FS2 and the full race will be available on the Fox Sports GO app.
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 47 years and have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.
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