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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Lexus’ Flagship GT3 Sports Car Is Still Three Years Away

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Toyota really wants to build a kickass GT3 race car that will spawn a production counterpart. However, we’ve heard little about the effort in the year-plus since its announcement. No news isn’t always good in this business, and sometimes plans change. Perhaps Toyota shelved the road car; it’s not like it doesn’t have precedent for that. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The GT3’s still coming — we’ll just have to wait a few more years for it.

The update comes from the best possible source, that being the director of Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team, Rob Leupen. He told Motorsport.com that it’s unlikely the grand tourer will hit the track until 2026, and that’s because it takes years to develop and certify a production car. Sure, waiting sucks, but this is for a good reason. From the article:

It had been thought that the car was being lined up for a race debut in 2025, the year after the WEC is opened up to GT3 cars.

But due to delays to the planned release of the GR GT3-derived road car that will be launched to coincide with the race version, Toyota is now targeting a WEC debut in 2026.

“Everybody knows we are developing a car, and this car will come to race in Europe in 2026,” Toyota WEC team director Rob Leupen told Motorsport.com.

“The date is in alignment with the road car side, which is following the philosophy of Toyota to have a motorsport-bred car on the road. This is moving forward at the moment.”

“Motorsport-bred car on the road” is, of course, music to our ears. One of the big question marks that remains is how the final result will be branded. The initial concept, with its dramatic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive proportions, was badged a Gazoo Racing product. But of course GR is exclusively a Toyota thing, and hasn’t really touched the Lexus marque yet. Leupen clarified this, too:

Reports have suggested that the car based on the GR GT3 will be badged as a Lexus, which has repeatedly hinted at introducing a successor for the ageing RC F GT3.

Asked whether the new car will be known as a Lexus, Leupen replied: “At the moment, it seems to be. It depends on how it develops within Toyota, but at the moment, yes.”

That sounds pretty definitive. At this stage it seems the GR GT3 will end up a Lexus, which makes sense taking in the car’s segment and the scope of the brand. Besides, Toyota has the hypercar effort all to itself anyway, so why not share the racing glory with the rest of the family? Whatever logo’s above the grille, the company seems pretty determined to carry this out to the end. Roll on 2026.

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