SALINAS, CA (September 24, 2017) – When the checkered flag waved at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, the Lexus RC F GT3 No. 14, with the driver team of Sage Karam and Robert Alon, was in 14th position. The No. 15 Lexus, with Jack Hawksworth and Scott Pruett, finished 13th. It wasn’t the finish anyone hoped for or expected.
“We certainly had better cars than what our finishing position showed,” said John Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing Technical Director.
“Sage made a heck of a start in the No. 14. He avoided all the chaos at the beginning and after qualifying fifth, quickly ended up third and eventually second. The guys made a great pit stop when we made the driver change and Robert had some good laps in his first stint,” he said.
But when the yellow occurred, Alon still had drivetime remaining and a driver change was out of the question. When Alon brought the No. 14 into the pits, the traffic was tight and he found himself struggling when it came time to pit out.
“We had a good race, just not the result we wanted,” Alon said. “We qualified fifth, Sage moved us into second and gave me the car. I had a good stint and when I brought it in, we were running fifth. But, I was in a bad space in the pits. Then, the car stalled and the crew had to push me to bump start it. I ended up a lap behind and just never caught up.”
Scott Pruett, who qualified the No. 15 and started the race in 8th position, said he was unsure how things seemed to go from good to not-so-great.
“Our car was running well, we had a driver change and Jack jumped in and I’m not sure what happened after that. Jack was really struggling with the car,” he said. “Unfortunately, we slid back and certainly finished where we never expected.”
The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 had undergone a recovery prior to the race after an incident during warm-up while Hawksworth was driving. The crew worked hard and got everything in working order in time for the race. Still, the No. 15 had trouble keeping pace when Hawksworth took over after a driver change with Pruett.
Damage that occurred to the No. 15, shortly after Hawksworth began his stint, caused a drop-in lap times and once that freefall began, it was nearly impossible to get it back.
“I really struggled for speed,” Hawksworth said. “It was a tough day. For whatever reason, if it was me or the car or maybe a bit of competition, I just couldn’t get the speed. We’re going to look back at everything. The guys did such a good job putting that car back together this morning, it’s just a shame we couldn’t make the pace.”
Karam said it was hard to end on such an unhappy note, especially when it seemed to start out in a way that indicated a chance at a better finish.
“I qualified better than I expected,” he said. “When we started the race, I gained two positions on the opening lap, then another later, from fifth to second. But that yellow flag came at the worst possible time. Rob had two minutes left in his drive time and our strategy was just thrown off. We went a lap down and we couldn’t recover. I feel like I say this every weekend, but we just need some luck.”
Next up in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the final race in the 2017 season, the Petit LeMans, Oct. 6-7 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA.
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.