ALTON, VA (Aug. 27, 2017) – 3GT Racing finished the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway with the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 in 7th and the No. 15 in 13th after an incident left the No. 15 unable to complete the race.
The team’s Technical Director, John Gentilozzi, said the team was definitely disappointed that the No. 15 was unable to finish, but there was some satisfaction in the No. 14 earning a 7th place despite accumulating a penalty.
“We came into this race knowing it was going to be a battle,” Gentilozzi said. “The GTD field is really tight, and we had to balance our on-rack pace against the need to save fuel. In the end, we made a good recovery after the penalty, and stayed clean to earn 7th place on the No. 14 car. Sage’s last stint was really good, and he was able to do some outstanding fuel saving.”
“It’s unfortunate that Jack got clipped in the first turn, but his effort to get back through the field was really impressive. I thought we were going to be in good shape after the final stop. It’s too bad we weren’t able to get to the end, but we will get to work and bring the RC F GT3 back to the front at Laguna Seca.”
During qualifying on Saturday, Sage Karam earned sixth position on the grid and Jack Hawksworth would start out P5. The green flag fell at 1:35 p.m. and before the drivers could complete their first lap, Hawksworth found himself in a spin.
The No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 was clipped in the right rear corner, while Hawksworth quickly regained control, he found himself at the back of the pack.
“It did a little bit of damage to our car, but not too much,” Hawksworth said. “It was a fuel saving race so I could go reasonably quick, but still save the fuel we needed. I passed some cars and got a little bit lucky with a few of the battles ahead of me that I could sneak through and got up to the front. The crew did a good job on the pit stops and Scott (Pruett) was doing a nice job there holding off the Ferrari, then I just saw the car go a little loose or something and we obviously couldn’t finish, but he was doing a great job up until then.”
Pruett’s end in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 came at turn 10, with only 20 minutes left in the race.
“We had a top five car,” he said. “Jack did a good job recovering from getting spun early on and then moving up all the back up to fifth. The car was solid. I jumped in, tried to carry the pace. I was running hard with the Ferrari. He was pushing me a little harder than I could keep up with and I got a little deep in turn 10, got a little loose, corrected, hooked the nose and went off the track.”
Pruett said he was most disappointed for the team but remains hopeful about the next race, Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda in Laguna Seca. “We still have opportunities this year to get where we should be,” he said.
Karam, P6 at the start of the race in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, quickly found himself in a one-on-one race with Katherine Legge in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3.
Legge moved alongside Karam on the track heading into Turn 14. Karam acknowledged pushing her to the edge of the track. But, he said she put him off the track and then slammed into the back of the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. The officials saw it differently Karam was issued a one-minute penalty stop.
“She had a good run on me, and I raced her hard. Hard like I would race anybody,” Karam said. “I pushed her all the way to the edge of the track, gave her lane.” While Karam and Legge were duking it out, Hawksworth sprinted ahead.
“I thought it was unfortunate that we got a penalty out of the whole ordeal,” he said. “But we bounced back to a 7th place finish despite the penalty. The team came through hard. Our day is coming. We’ve just got to have some luck and stay out of trouble, but our day is coming.”
Robert Alon, Karam’s co-driver said he was pretty happy with the 7th place finish considering the penalty. “The crew was great and we were doing our best. One of these days we’re going to get the result we’ve been working so hard for,” Alon said.
The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda in Laguna Seca, CA will be Sept. 24.
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.