gdh300

Lexus in motorsport 2018

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Finally! Apart from the curious 24h Dubai, its seems ages since any sort of motorsport action. And Lexus are in the first big race of the year, the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend. Qualifying is taking place as I write this post with 3GT Racing running - as they did in 2017 - two RC-Fs in GT3 spec in what IMSA categorize as 'GTD'. Cars 14 and 15 have strong driver line-ups (with some familiar faces from Blancpain and GT Open) in Kyle Marcelli, Bruno Junqueira, Dominik Baumann and Philipp Frommenwiler in #14, and David Heinemeier Hansson, Jack Hawksworth, Dominik Farnbacher and Scott Pruett in #15. Live streaming will be available at imsatv.imsa.com but as multiple category racing - with GTD the slowest - you'll need to be patient to catch sight of the electric blue Lexus. Hopefully though, they both be running for the full 24 hours each so plenty of opportunity... You can see catch some of the atmosphere from 'The Roar Before The 24' here on YouTube and an article on the Lexus Blog here.

Elsewhere, Emil Frey Racing will be competing (probably ) in the GT Open series they did so well in last year, although they may be planning an assault in the Blancpain series. It's too early to be certain just who will be running the GT3 Lexus in Europe as both series won't be starting until April; more on those in due course.

Also starting in April will be SuperGT in Japan with Lexus represented (as reigning champions) by the GT500 spec LC500s, and hopefully by GT3 spec RC-Fs in the GT300 category.

Those of you looking forward to the rumoured LC500-F might like this article detailing the lightly modified LC500 that will compete in the ADAC 24H of Nurburgring. Will the road going version get that big rear wing, I wonder? 

Finallly, next weekend is the hugely enjoyable Bathurst 12 hours, unfortunately without any Lexus involvement but always worth a look. Live streaming should be on their website. 

 

 

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News today that Emil Frey Racing will be competing in the Blancpain series this year after dipping their toes for a single round in 2017. Hard to find anything more concrete than that but a Spanish website suggest the RC-F will compete in both the Sprint and the Endurance championships. Whether It will be a direct transfer of the team and drivers from GT Open we will have to wait and see. I know over winter the Lexus preparation has moved from a base near The Nurburgring to their headquarters in Switzerland, which may signal the end of the Jaguar XK8 programme and liberate additional resources and drivers (such as Stephane Ortelli). It will be a significant step-up in terms of competition, professionalism and budget but also international profile. It will be interesting to see if Farnbacher Racing continue in GT Open in 2018.   

News article from Sportscar365 is here.

Press release from Toyota Gazoo Racing (showing the plethora of motorsport activities across the Toyota empire) is here.

Edited by gdh300
Update

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Confirmation today that Emil Frey Racing will be running two RC-Fs in both the Blancpain GT series this year (as well as running the old XKs at a few select Endurance races). It's a definite boost to be running two cars as opposed to the single car effort in GT Open last year. Drivers will be Albert Costa, Christian Klien and Marco Seefried in one car and Markus Palttala, Norbert Siedler and Stephane Ortelli in the other, which is a decent line-up. The first Blancpain GT test of the year will be 13th/14th March at Paul Ricard. 

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Greetings race fans! Some Lexus action for me to highlight this week...

First off, commencing tomorrow is two day test at Paul Ricard for competitors in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series. 45 GT3 cars are scheduled to take part (take that, F1!), one of which is the lone RC-F being run by Emil Frey. A quick look at the entry list on that link will show you the quality of cars, teams and drivers against which the Lexus must measure itself. It will then be just three short weeks to the first race of the season at Zolder.

Secondly, this weekend it is the IMSA Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. 3GT Racing will be running two RC-Fs, both of which should benefit from enlarged restrictor plates. The race starts AM Saturday morning local time and a full entry list is available here.

Meanwhile, globally we may see more Lexus RC-Fs with customer teams as the FIA are pushing manufacturers to building sufficient cars to avoid a nascent 'GT3 prototype' class, which can only be a good thing, for Lexus and for motorsport.  

Just remembered! Also testing this weekend will be the GT500 and GT300 cars in SuperGT at Okayama. The superb LC500 starts the season as reigning champion but will be faced with renewed challenges this year from Honda and Nissan. In GT300, there should be at least two GT3 spec RC-Fs competing this season.

 

Edited by gdh300
Video added

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As you may have seen on the official Lexus Blog, this weekend sees the RC-Fs and LC500s kick-off their European and Japanese campaigns.

Lots to read on line so I'll curb my enthusiasm and limit myself to giving two links here:

From the Emil Frey website, the team's preview of the 2018 Blancpain season  and the chances for their two GT3 spec RC-Fs. Coverage on-line will be available courtesy of GTWorld.

From the official SuperGT website, their preview of the season's first race at Okayama. Coverage on-line will be available courtesy of NismoTV and JensonButtonTV.

In Blancpain, Lexus will be the new boys (their only crack at GT3's top drawer racing was one taster round in 2017) with all that implies. On the face of it, the first round at short and twisty Zolder will favour the Audi, Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren teams, but with the BOP, who knows?

Mixed reports about how Lexus may shape-up in SuperGT. The new Nissan GT-R looks a big improvement and Honda has invested heavily, not least by having Jenson Button as a full time driver in 2018. 

All right, I know; that end-up as five links!

 

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With this balmy weather in the UK, it's not hard to imagine how nice it will be at Monza in glorious spring sunshine this weekend. But what better way to disturb the birdsong and gentle rustle of leaves than with the roar of fifty-four GT3 spec cars? Two of them of course are the Emil Frey run RC-Fs.

Monza is the first of the 'proper' Blancpain GT races this year, being part of the Endurance series which run at the bigger, higher speed circuits (as opposed to the Sprint series that run at tighter, twistier tracks). The long straights and high speed corners should suit better the front engined Lexus, Bentley, Aston, Jaguar, Nissan and Mercedes chassis than did Zolder. The three hour race is on Sunday at 1400BST, with streaming on the Blancpain website or via NismoTv on YouTube.  

Good luck Lexus!

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It's a bit Anglocentric of me to do this, but as the Blancpain GT Sprint series is at Brands Hatch this weekend (May 5th/6th), I thought an early heads-up may help you should you fancy a visit to Kent. 

If any of you have been watching the season so far (one Sprint race, one Endurance) you'll know it has been "challenging" for the Emil Frey Lexus, but only to be expected when stepping-up to the world's most competitive GT3 series. Accident damage and race penalties have compounded (no pun intended!) the team's learning curve on the unfamiliar Pirelli rubber. A break with BoP would help as well (which will invariably come)!  

Saturday sees practice and qualifying with both one hour races on Sunday. As usual there is programme of support races , details available here. And the good news is that it is on the full GP circuit which is deliciously old school - not like some of the abysmal circuits F1 goes to...

I nearly forgot, here is a link to a preview of the meeting from Emil Frey's website.

Having talked it up, I have to admit I will not be going, commitments elsewhere sadly. However, I will be going to the next round which is in a fortnight at Silverstone for what will be the second 3hr Endurance race of the year.

 

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As well as the Blancpain meeting this weekend  (my previous post), Lexus will be out in strength in Japan for the Fuji 500km in SuperGT

By all accounts it is a massive race on the domestic scene (but 500 kilometres will be over in a flash given the awesome speed of the GT500 cars. And Lexus have shown early promise with a one-two in qualifying. Nice to see the Zent LC500 on pole; by far the best colour scheme IMHO! Credit again to NismoTV on YouTube who will be streaming the race live with race start scheduled for 1440 local time, Friday (yes, Friday) 5th of May.

A little while later, in The States, 3GT Racing will competing with their two RC-Fs in the Mid-Ohio round of the Acura Sports Car Challenge. Full details and streaming (I think) is here

As an aside, parent company Toyota are competing this weekend in the first WEC race of the year, the 6hrs of Spa-Francorchamps

 

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Yes, I know it is Eurovision this Saturday and that most of you will be glued to it, but also going on this weekend is the Nurburgring24. And yes, I am posting because there is a spot of Lexus involvement in the massive multi-class field of 146 cars. 

You'll to need to look out for cars No.42 (RC-F in SP8), No.43 (IS-F in SP8) and No.56 (LC500 in SP-PRO). I'm not sure where you can see it, but usually a bit of searching on Google will get you a feed. This link might be worth a go to start with.

What is the Japanese equivalent of "Forza Lexus!"?

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A bit late posting this, but tomorrow is the second round of the Blancpain Endurance series, taking part at sunny Silverstone. Well, it was certainly sunny today - I did get a little bit rosy-cheeked! 

The two Emil Frey RC-Fs were some way off the pace in the morning 90 minute practice session, culminating unfortunately in one returning on the back of a flatbed. The pre-qualifying session in the afternoon was much improved with Christian Klien topping the timing for a while. However, difficult to read too much into the times as the teams heat-cycle tyres etc. But, fingers crossed the team are getting onto a flatter part of the Pirelli tyre learning curve and the fact that the Mercedes showed strongly shows Silverstone is kinder to the front engined cars.  

There is a small Lexus display in the paddock including an LC50 and an RC-F. Sadly, I can't be there tomorrow, but hopefully some of you LOC members might be there to wave the flag. I will be looking out for you on the live stream!

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Lexus RC-Fs are in action again this weekend, in Europe and in The States. 

Following a first IMSA GTD victory last time out, 3GT Racing are now at Belle-Isle for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in Detroit. Streaming coverage should be available at IMSA TV

Meanwhile, SRO will be holding the next Blancpain GT Endurance Cup race at Circuit Paul Ricard. The full grid of 51 cars will compete in a 1000km race in the wide, colourful expanses of the French track (thankfully without the chicane half-way down the Mistral Straight) that starts in daylight and runs into the night. And what a fine sight that is, GT cars racing at dusk... Emil Frey Racing finished an excellent third at the last race at Silverstone, completely on merit it must be said. Streaming is available on the Nismo TV YouTube channel.

Good luck Lexus!

 

Edited by gdh300
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I can't contain my delight any more - and besides Lexus Blog will soon have the story - but spoilers ahead:

LEXUS RC-F WIN AT PAUL RICARD!

What a fantastic race, everything that is good about endurance racing, all the ups and downs, the good luck and the bad. Six hours just flew by, and what finish.; unbelievable Jeff! 

A massive well done to everyone at Emil Frey, magnificent job.

 

 

2018-06-02 (61).png

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Blancpain GT Sprint is back this weekend, making a return to the Misano circuit in Italy.

The Sprint series comprises two one hour races over two days, generally at shorter and twistier circuits. These tend to play to the strengths of the mid-engined Audis and Lamborghinis, so we are unlikely to see a repeat win for the Emil Frey Lexus this weekend. But every race adds a bit more data to the bank for development of next year's car. 

Live coverage will be on the YouTube channel and live timing on the Blancpain website. Qualifying starts in about 2 hours.

Goo luck Lexus!

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SuperGT makes its one pilgrimage outside Japan this weekend with a visit to the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. I imagine it will be a scorcher, but hopefully scheduled to avoid any daily downpour periods. 

NismoTV on YouTube will be streaming live, link here. According to my calculations the race starts tomorrow (Sunday 1st July) at 0900 BST, so a little bit more UK friendly than the Japanese races. Watch out for the phalanx of LC500s in GT500 and the RC-Fs (GT3 spec) in GT300.

Good Luck Lexus! [not as my previous post "Goo luck"]

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Another IMSA Weathertech race today, as the series crosses the border to Canada and the Sportscar Grand Prix in Bowmanville, Ontario. A full field of Daytona Prototypes, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona ran qualifying yesterday and the 3GT Racing Lexus wrapped-up a 1-2 in GTD. The last race ended in disappointment after a 1-3 in qualifying, so hopefully things will go more to plan in Canada. Streaming will be available on imsa.tv

Good luck, Lexus!

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Over the last weekend of July it will be the 24 Hours of Spa for GT3 spec cars, run as part of the Blancpain GT series. As such, there will be the usual massive grid of lovely GT cars including the two Emil Frey RC-Fs. There's a little article here as a bit of taster featuring the words of team principal Lorenz Frey.

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3GT Racing are in action again this weekend at the beautiful Lime Rock circuit for the IMSA Weathertech Northeast Grand Prix. P2 and P3 in qualifying bodes well, even if recently the RC-Fs have struggled to convert qualifying pace into race wins. Streamed coverage will be available on Sunday (22nd July) on imsatv

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This afternoon see the start of the 24 hours of Spa 2018 at 1530 UK time. 24 hours at possibly the finest circuit in the world with a field of 62 fantastic GT3 machines, I mean what is there not to like?

Emil Frey are busy running not only their XK8 but also, of course, their two RC-Fs. After qualifying they lay P15 and P26, meaning the #14 car of Marco Seefried, Christian Klien and Albert Costa was able to compete in Superpole, a final qualifying session for the top 20 cars. On the face of it, a disappointing result for Lexus with P19 from 19 runners in the session (one car did not start) but it goes without saying, this is a long, long race. 

I have a certain feeling of schadenfreude in seeing the WRT Audi that took Superpole has subsequently had it's times deleted, meaning it will start in P21, still with a stop-go penalty to serve in the race. Brave of the Belgians to punish what is essentially an Audi factory team run from a Belgian base but as the stewards decision states: 

Non-sporting behaviour - presenting a car with a technical non-conformity of which the competitor should have been aware.

Seems they had some sort of dodgy inlet tract that provided increased power. Sounds a little like other stories from the emission-cheating monkey-poisoners, doesn't it? As a result, much more gratifying to see an Aston Martin will start from pole position [these are only my personal opinions of course!].

A serious accident this morning in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race halted track activity for an hour and half, but as far as I can tell, the planned start of the race should still be at 1630 local time.

Good luck everyone at Emil Frey Racing, a safe race and successful one. 24 hour streaming is on-line here.

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Firstly, a quick update from the 24 Hours of Spa. You may have seen/read that the #14 RC-F finished a creditable 13th, just four laps behind the winner but that unfortunately the #114 Lexus crashed heavily in the night at Raidillon. The SRO have released a statement that while Stephane Ortelli was taken to hospital following the crash, he has since received the all-clear and has gone home to recover. It's nearly three weeks until the next Blancpain race so hopefully he will be back on top form by then.

Anyway, this weekend - on the other side of the world - SuperGT returns for Round 5 with the 500 mile race at Fuji Speedway. While it may be the eponymous home track for Lexus "F", it's likely to be a tough race for the LC500s having had good results the last time out. But 500 miles is a long race and temperatures are predicted to be over 30 degrees (thankfully without any downpours) so you never know. Coverage will be available on the NismoTV YouTube channel, although they have not as yet put up the links for forthcoming live streams.

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