The words “Lexus” and “motorsport” may not come straight to mind when one thinks of either one, but for a decade Lexus has been involved in the Japanese Super GT race series. Basically, the Super GT series is Japan’s answer to other international Touring Cars series such as the DTM, BTCC, and the V8 Supercars. The Super GT series are split in two different categories; GT300 and GT500. Lexus’s previous Super GT cars were based on the old SC430 luxo-cruiser. However, they’ve now got a brand spanking new racer and it looks every bit as good as a racing car should, exaggerated spindle grille and all.
It helps that the new car is based on the already fantastic looking RC F coupe. Yes, in 2015 Lexus will be represented on Japanese and European race circuits by a racing version of the RC F. Prepare for mega jaw dropping. The RC F GT500 car may look like the road car but it’s actually powered by a completely different engine. The standard RC F comes with a mighty 450bhp 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8. Under the bonnet of the RC F GT500 isn’t a V8. Instead you’ll find a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged R14AG unit, similar to the one you’ll find the newly launched Lexus NX200t.
A RC F GT3 race car will also be produced, though only limited to three units. These retain the road car’s V8 engine, albeit heavily modified. Maximum output is estimated to be around 397kW/540bhp and the whole car itself will only weigh 1250kg. These cars are bound for various race series in Japan and Europe. The new launch of the RC F race cars also gave Lexus the opportunity to launch a new logo for its Racing and F division. The hope is to promote awareness of the F Sport brand and for Lexus’ racing division. For Lexus to have a whole division dedicated to racing and motorsports is surely a bold move. I’m hoping we’ll see involvement in other racing series in the future from the Japanese brand. How does a Lexus presence in the Australian V8 Supercars sound?
For most people, Lexus and the F Sport are seen as alternatives to the Germans, but what we’re seeing from Lexus recently is they’re more than capable of giving the establishment a run for their money. BMW M, Audi RS, and Mercedes-AMG all compete in the DTM series and their road cars have benefited from their involvement in the series. There’s no doubt Lexus’s F Division will learn a lot from their GT500 cars and it’s only a matter of time until that gets translated to their road cars. Lexus NZ General Manager, Steve Pragnell, has said “Lexus’s presence in GT500 will elevate the performance credentials of the Lexus F range and solidify the RC F in the minds of potential customers as a genuine performance car”. It’ll only be a matter of time when Lexus’s F Sport catch up to the benchmarks as opposed to being the alternatives.
Who would’ve thought the makers of the LS400 would be competing the motorsports arena. Think what you will of Lexus but in 26 years they’ve come a long way. The LFA, the launch and quick expansion of the F Sport brand, and a growing presence in motorsport. Not to mention the GS F super sedan is just around the corner. Yes, Lexus are heading in the right direction. Fingers crossed we’ll see a hardcore RC F GT3 road car sometime in the near future.