FEB 3, 2017
The Lexus RC F GT3 signals an ambitious foray into the world of sports car racing for lexus. Engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi explains how, and why
Yukihiko Yaguchi has a lot to be proud of. A chief engineer at Lexus, Yaguchi is the man behind the RC F GT3, a heavily modified version of the RC F, Lexus’s new high-performance coupe. He’s proud of the car, which will soon sit at the pinnacle of Lexus’s performance-oriented range. He’s proud that Lexus has become one of the few Japanese manufacturers to develop a vehicle compliant with the strict parameters of GT3, a grand touring motor-sport category that abides by regulations set by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), the world’s governing body for auto racing events. And he’s proud that his car is being so widely acknowledged. The RC F GT3 is the latest model in the Lexus F range, a division of cars largely associated with performance, precision and progressive technology. The range includes the widely lauded Lexus LFA, a two-seat coupe that has competed in various endurance races.
“The history of the F range actually began with the IS F in 2007,” explains Yaguchi. “Since then we’ve launched several game-changing models – both concept cars and production vehicles – but this sports car definitely represents a highlight.” When the RC F GT3 Concept was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show, in March, it generated a wealth of justified hype, and plenty of headlines. It made clear Lexus’s ambition to make its presence felt on the racetrack, where previously it had little bearing, and it proved Japan’s ability to manufacture, from start to finish, a world-class sports car.
“We’re now in the process of fine-tuning the vehicle,” says Yaguchi. “Once it’s done, we’ll start supplying the cars to racing teams to race in the 2015 season. GT3 cars can enter countless races around the world, including the 24-hour race at Nürburgring, in Germany, and the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in the US. It’s great that many racing fans will get to see our product in action.”
Like the Lexus RC F, the most powerful V8 performance model the brand has yet developed, the RC F GT3 is full of engineering features aimed at extracting the best out of its 540-plus horsepower engine. The car will be an asset to any race team. Its purpose-built front fenders and front-end underbody treatment have been designed to minimize drag.
Its rear spoiler stands tall and wide to provide the car with enough downforce to improve stability (and therefore increase its speed) around bends. And “Lexus’s latest carbon fiber technology has been applied wherever appropriate,” says Yaguchi, “to keep the car’s weight to a minimum.” He continues: “With attention to detail in mind, we’ve fine-tuned everything from the car’s agility and handling response to the mechanics of its onboard devices. We have here a very serious racing car. But at the same time, drivers of all skill levels would be able to enjoy driving it on circuits around the world.”