The North American Sportscar Racing scenery is about to get 2 new Japanese faces next season. The Acura NSX GT3 and Lexus RC-F GT3. Acura has been on schedule from the start with the NSX GT3 while Lexus has seen a much longer tumultuous road. Both are poised to make their competitive debut at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Acura/Honda set the motor racing world a-twitter when they announced they would be taking their brand new NSX GT Racing. They got us even more excited when they officially launched the NSX GT3. Since then they have followed a strict testing schedule and all signs point to the NSX GT3 being competitive right out of the box in 2017. The only lingering question was who would be tasked with running the cars in actual competition. This past weekend HPD (Honda/Acura’s Racing arm in North America) announced the lucky teams. In the absolute worst kept secret in the history of motor racing HPD tabbed RealTime Racing to campaign the NSX GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class. RealTime has raced Accuras in World Challenge seemingly forever. Honestly, it feels like as long as there have been Acuras RealTime has been racing them in some form or another.
On the flip side, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) is relatively new to Honda. Having been predominantly Ford until last season when they made the switch to Honda power in their LMP2 car. MSR has raced almost exclusively in the prototype ranks since the inception of the Grand-Am series which later became IMSA. HPD has given MSR the nod to run the NSX GT3s in IMSA competition. Both MSR and RealTime will campaign 2 cars in their respective championships.
“The NSX was designed as a pinnacle expression of Acura Precision Crafted Performance, and we’re looking forward to proving its ultimate performance capabilities in GT3 competition,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “By continuing our longtime partnership with RealTime Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge and extending our association with Michael Shank Racing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, we plan to build on Acura’s long tradition of success in North American sports car racing.”
Things have not gone according to plan for Lexus and their entry into GT3 Racing. They launched the original RC-F GT3 and it fell flat on its face. Balance woes doomed the car to a noncompetitive status. Lexus and parent company Toyota took the problem very serious and canceled the program so they could go back to the drawing board and redevelop the car. They tasked Paul Gentilozzi’s race team with developing a brand new version of the car. They then brought on North American Sportscar Racing Legend, Scott Pruett to do the driving. They named the entire endeavor F Performance Racing. They teased us with possible 2016 on track racing but that never materialized. Choosing to develop the car in-house then risk another very public failure.
We haven’t seen Lexus out testing publically like Acura. While Acura appears to be an open book, Lexus is closed off. But here are the 2 things we know so far. We know for absolute certainty that Lexus will be at the official GT3 homologation test in Ladoux this month. Now, we know there will be further testing in October.
“We will have some testing in October with the new car, pending its arrival,” Lexus Motorsports manager Mark Egger told RACER. “We are still sorting the details with [Toyota Motor Corporation] on the actual delivery date. The cars goes into Ladoux for testing in mid-September, and then they’ll work on the shipment date to us.”
Both Acura and Lexus have yet to make final announcements on their complete driver lineup. While we believe Sage Karam will join Pruett at Lexus no word has been given on the 2nd car’s drivers or who will join the team part-time during the endurance races. Speculation on Acura’s Drivers is a little clearer, as MSR already has 2 drivers but nothing is cast in stone yet.
Both Cars will be making their Competition Debuts at the Daytona 24 Hours.