The Lexus F brand is gaining steam in the U.S. The automaker announced at its Detroit auto show press conference that in 2014, one in four Lexus buyers picked F Sport models when available, and within the IS line, F Sport models made up nearly 50 percent of sales volume -- surpassing its initial projections. Now, Lexus wants to earn the F badge some street cred by racing it in the form of the new RC F GT3.
Taking lessons learned from the GT500-class RC F race car campaigned in the Japanese Super GT series, the RC F GT3 will lead Lexus' first global racing effort. Lexus expects the car to pass FIA homologation soon, which will make the car eligible for GT3-spec competition. Once that happens, the brand plans to work with its racing partners to make the car more competitive before entering the FIA GT3 European Championship and a "yet-to-be-determined series in the United States" by 2016. The two major series in the U.S. that allow the GT3 specification are the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship and SCCA Pirelli World Challenge. Lexus says it will announce more details on its racing program later in the year.
The GT3 wasn't the only racy vehicle at Lexus' show stand. The 2016 Lexus GS F also made its debut in Detroit, showing off its aggressive sheetmetal and 467-hp naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8. Though Lexus chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi previously gave us an early estimate of 200 units allotted for the U.S., Lexus now foresees a much bigger draw for the performance sedan. Group vice president and general manager for the Lexus division Jeff Bracken said the brand expects to sell 1600 GS F models annually in the U.S. alone.