VLN 9: Lexus Lays Out its Cards

The weather is changing (has changed) in Germany, and the VLN season is drawing to a close. Of course, the Nordschleife never really closes, but the racing weather is going away, and the pressure's on for any manufacturers who have a car they need to prove on the emblematic course. Lexus was one such manufacturer; their RC-F GT3 car has been "in development and coming to race in the U.S." for what seems like a lifetime. Some of us had given up hope, with Nissan's abrupt pull of the plug on Ben Bowlby's GT-R LM dream last year still fresh on our minds. (OEMs don't particularly enjoy spending millions on race programs that don't bear fruit.) Perhaps fearing the same fate with the sun setting on the 2016 race season, the Lexus' development team made a big statement on Saturday by winning the penultimate VLN race outright.

The RC-F GT3 just went through FIA's Balance of Performance testing last month, in preparation for its official GT3 homologation. The results of that test have not yet been announced or applied to the car, so VLN organizers still have it racing in the SPX special class (for prototypes not yet eligible for racing in other series). While last year's version of the car was able to pull off an SPX-class win, it still came in after the GT3 (SP9) leaders of the race. This time around, it came to the checker the undisputed leader--a far cry from not being fast enough to even get into 2015's BoP testing session. We're sure the car will be slowed down some once the BoP actually comes into play next year, but last weekend's win shows that the new version of the car has more than enough pace, plus room to give, to be competitive in international GT competition for 2017. We can't wait to see it on the high banks of Daytona next January.

Photos by Chris Frays.