MONTEREY, CA (Sept. 9, 2018) – The checkered flag flew at the end of today’s two-hour and 40-minute America’s 250 with the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 finishing seventh and the No. 15 in tenth.
“It’s a terrible result to a very hard-fought battle,” said Paul Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing’s Managing Partner. “We came here knowing that Laguna was a difficult track for our car. The kinematics of our car favor us in places like VIR and they hurt us here. And the other problem is that it’s a tire degradation track and we weigh a lot and it eats our tires.”
Kyle Marcelli, who drove the first stint in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, said the multiple restarts at the beginning of the race were not part of the team’s strategy.
“With the initial start there was contact with the GTLM’s and the Prototypes and debris all over the track. We made it through that one unscathed. Then there was the second restart, and, on restarts, you can overtake anywhere so, to be honest, I had a great start out of turn 10,” Marcelli said. “I overtook some cars going into turn 11, but then I was just surrounded with cars in front, behind, both sides and the rear of the car was light. I couldn’t tell if maybe my right sides were on the sand, but as soon as I got on the throttle the rear was gone and thankfully, we were able to continue and kept the car running. We were at the back of the line, but I worked hard and at the end of the stint we were in the second position, so it was a good recovery.”
While in second position, Marcelli came in for a driver change and co-pilot Dominik Baumann took over driving duties.
“It was hard after half of a stint to really keep up with the others. Just the time we lost with used tires was too much,” Baumann said. “The last stint we had a small problem with the pit stop. We went a little bit too far to the front, and the crew couldn’t put the refuel hose in the car easily. We lost 30 seconds. It’s a little bit disappointing.”
Jack Hawksworth took the first stint and the last in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3. He earned the second fastest lap in the GTD class with a lap time of 1:25:786. Hawksworth said the No. 15 car struggled over the course of the weekend and they were expecting a struggle for the race.
“Last night we took a big swing at things with the Lexus and we went in a direction which we’ve really never been before,” Hawksworth said. “We went out of our comfort window, setup-wise and it seemed to work better this morning in warmup. We stuck with it for the race and the performance of the car was a lot stronger than it had been all weekend. The pace was much better. We had an issue in the second stint with a hole in the front of the grille, so that kind of slowed us during that second stint. Had some tire degradation towards the end.”
Hawksworth said while the outcome wasn’t what anybody hoped for, he was encouraged with the engineering staff’s set-up changes, and said that the team learned a lot this weekend.
Paul Gentilozzi said he wanted to compliment the engineering staff for being creative with the set-up.
“In the race event, the incident at the beginning, Jack (Hawksworth) got hit, hit into somebody else, and actually punched a hole in the nose of the car. It took a while for it to break through and when it did, it caused a massive push,” he said. “At the end of David’s (Heinemeier Hansson) stint, Jack got back in and the push was so bad that it was 3.5 to 4 seconds a lap. But we had to get to 35 or 38 laps left to be able to have tires at the end. We did the change, we did a three-stop, one more than normal and fought our way back. Some cars are simply miracles, the 50-lap Porsche on fuel is a big miracle, I’m not sure how they did that. We could certainly not do that, we were five laps short of that and the Acura, well they were just fast.”
Heinemeier Hansson said he was surprised to find that there was more pace with the No. 15 than he had expected based on qualifying.
“So, for the first 20 laps, I had a blast passing half the field,” he said. “I was happy to see us run as high as fourth. Damage from the earlier carnage impeded Jack’s (Hawksworth) middle stint and running out of tires at the end kept us from finishing better. We will try again in a month.”
The team’s Technical Director, John Gentilozzi, said he takes a couple things away from the weekend.
“We did learn a lot about running at Laguna,” he said. “It may not have shown in the result sheets, but we made the cars better as the weekend went on and that has some value. The guys did good on the pit stops, we were lucky to avoid all the trouble that went on out there. We’re leaving with two mostly complete race cars and you can always count that as a good weekend. We’ll take our lessons and move on to Atlanta where we definitely feel better about our chances.”
Next race is the ten-hour endurance race, Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 13.
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.