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Lexus ends GT3 factory programme in Europe

Toyota brand Lexus has ended factory support of its racing programme with the RC F GT3 contender in Europe.

Lexus Europe announced on Wednesday that it has “reached the natural end to its direct support of GT3 racing projects in Europe”, which in 2020 centred on the Tech 1-run Panis Racing squad’s campaign in the GT World Challenge Europe.

“As the brand’s strategic direction evolves, keeping Lexus at the forefront of automotive electrification, Lexus Europe will focus on other ways to engage with customers across the continent,” read its statement.

Lexus didn’t rule out the RC F GT3 returning to competition in Europe with what it called “independently-funded teams”.

The decision does not affect its programmes with the GT3 car in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in North America and in the Super GT Series in Japan.

Lexus said it was ending factory backing after “a satisfying four seasons” with the car.

The only major win by the RC F in Europe came at the 2018 Paul Ricard 1000Km round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.

The Swiss Emil Frey squad, which represented the marque in 2017 and ’18, took the victory in the six-hour race with Christian Klien, Albert Costa and Marco Seefried.

The Frey and Farnbacher Racing teams also claimed six wins between them in the 2017 GT Open series.

This year the Lexus team headed by ex-Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis scored one silver up class victory in GTWCE Sprint Cup.

Lexus entered the GT3 arena in 2015 with a development version of the RC F, which raced in Japan and briefly Europe, before the definitive car came on stream in 2017.

The Vasser Sullivan squad will continue to represent Lexus in the IMSA GT Daytona class after its split with the Canadian AIM Autosport operation.

In 2020 the Indycar entrant finished third and fourth in the class standings with Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth, who also won Sprint Cup championship made up of seven of the 11 IMSA rounds.

Four teams fielded Lexus RC F GT3s in the GT300 class of the Super GT Series in 2020.

Lexus Europe said it “extends thanks to Tech 1 Racing and Panis Racing for the positive co-operation since 2019”.

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