It was a rollercoaster weekend for the 3GT Racing team at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, seventh race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, with drivers Sage Karam and Scott Pruett, finished in fifth place. It is the second fifth place for the 3GT Racing team and the first for the No. 14.
Karam set a new GTD track record during qualifying on Saturday in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, with a fastest lap of 1:16:536, the former track record lap was 1:18:245. He started in first and maintained the lead position for 35 laps, until coming in for a pit stop and driver change.
Two drive-through penalties earned during the pit stop put the car, with driver Pruett, further back in the pack and fighting to return to the front. He made it through the traffic, coming in for the second driver change at P8.
“I think, for having two drive-through penalties, dang, we did ok getting fifth at the end,” Pruett said. “The team did a great job, Sage did a great job recovering. It was a crazy day with the on and off rain. All we can do is keep doing what we’re doing. The car has been strong. We caused our own issues today, unfortunately. We’ll just keep tying things up and work to make it better.”
Karam said he felt terrible about the penalty, but the car felt great when he was in the first time and the second.
“It was my first-time leading this season and it felt great. I was kind of cruising, then the pit stop came and everything that we needed to go right, went wrong,” Karam said. His second drive was focused on moving through the traffic. A couple of yellow flags helped tighten up the pack and the on-again/off-again rain helped Karam make ground on some of the cars in front of him.
The No. 15, with drivers Jack Hawksworth and Robert Alon, finished 12th, but first the car had to make an incredible comeback after being damaged during practice session when Hawksworth went off the track at turn three.
The 3GT Racing crew worked through the night, even made a quick trip to Michigan to retrieve needed parts, and had the car up and running in time for the race. Starting at the back of the pack was inevitable, but Alon brought the car from 14 to 10 before bringing it in to pit.
Then, in a bizarre coincidence, Robert Alon earned the same drive-through penalty Karam had received minutes earlier. When he brought the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 in for a pit and driver change, and couldn’t get the car in neutral. “I can’t thank the crew enough for all the work they did,” Alon said. “They worked all night to get the car back together, and not only get it together, but it was quick.”
Hawksworth got the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 back on the track and did his best to punch through the traffic. He had great speed, but even with a yellow flag, didn’t have the time he needed. “The car was incredible, very fast. I passed the leader, got back on the lead lap, then we lost it in the pit exchange. I caught the leader up again, tried to pass him but only passed him once. I was always catching cars and getting stuck behind them,” he said. “We were one of the quickest cars on the track for the whole race.”
John Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing Technical Director, said he was impressed with the cars speed, but especially disappointed in the outcome on behalf of the crew who had worked through most of the night to repair the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3.
“I’m really sorry we couldn’t reward the crew with a better finish. A win or a podium, or something,” Gentilozzi said. “But, in the end, we had two really good cars, two very fast cars, and for us to get back out there after what happened in practice is a testament to the guys that work on those cars. What first looked desperate turned out to be an OK day considering we took fifth with the 14, ran a clean race and brought both cars home in one piece. We’ll try again at Lime Rock.”
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.