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Well, after a encouraging weekend at Silverstone (my GT Open fanboy post is here) an announcement on Wednesday by Emil Frey has got me more than a little bit excited. And as Lexus enthusiast, I think you should be too! In a nutshell - out of the blue - the Lexus RC-F will be competing in the next round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at the Nürburgring.
It's exciting for sure, but let's not get carried away and keep expectations down, much as Emil Frey are doing themselves. It looks very much a 'fact-finding exercise', but also a barely-disguised sign of a realistic intention to join the party full-time next season. Thus far, Emil Frey have exclusively concentrated on the Blancpain GT Endurance Series in 2017 with the ageing XK8, so you have to think may be the RC-F will be bound as a replacement for the Jaguar in the three hours races, rather than a permanent fixture in the 60 minute sprints (even if it aligns more closely with the GT Open series).
Meanwhile, concentrating on the race at hand, the Balance Of Performance / Nürburgring combination will probably - on past performance - favour the mid-engined cars, specifically the plethora of factory backed Audi R8s (Audi being the only manufacturer named as a sponsor of the Sprint series, no comment required). The switch to Pirelli rubber will doubtless stymie the RC-Fs performance, but it will be fascinating to see how they measure-up against the best GT3 teams in the business. Albert Costa is an undoubted star, but his pairing with the mega-experienced and rapid Stéphane Ortelli shows commitment by the team, and likely hints at the long term retirement of the venerable XK8.
Live streaming will be at GT World. Forza Lexus! (or the Japanese equivalent...)
I promised the mods I wouldn't start yet another Lexus motorsport thread, but I think this weekend's events warrants a renegement for us UK residents, namely... Lexus will be racing at Silverstone this weekend!
The GT Open series - after a bit of a break - returns for round five (of seven) this weekend at the famed old Northamptonshire/Buckinghamshire circuit. The two teams running a pair of RC-F each - Emil Frey and Farnbacher Racing - have been testing at Barcelona recently so the expected cool conditions at Silverstone should prove a contrast. However, the Balance Of Performance formula will have been reassessed before a wheel turns for free practice on Friday, and hopefully things will favour the RC-Fs a little more than has been evident in recent races. High speed corners at Silverstone may well play to the Lexus strengths if the pattern of the early season can be repeated.
As is normal for GT Open, there will be two races this weekend, one on Saturday (70 minutes), one on Sunday (60 minutes). Both days have a qualifying session for the GT3s and support races of Radical European Master and Euroformula Open. Tickets are a bargain £15 for Saturday and £26 for Sunday; a ticket for both days on the gate costs £30. Of course, if you can't make it, there will be extensive streaming on the GT Open YouTube channel.
I will be there both days, waving a flag for Lexus; may be see some of you there.