No question: GT3 is where it’s at for manufacturers of performance-oriented cars, from Cadillac to Lamborghini. The manufacturers either build – or contract with another company to build for them – GT3 cars to sell to customer teams, usually after the manufacturer itself runs the car as a factory team to iron out the bugs.
The Pirelli World Challenge and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship both race GT3 cars, as do literally dozens of other series around the world. The cars are typically sold for somewhere between $450,000 and $700,000, depending on the level of support and the spares package, and the good news is for teams that there are always ready spare parts, advice from the manufacturer, and the knowledge that a higher-buck team is pretty limited in what they can do to make their GT3 cars faster.
That said, it isn’t as easy as it sounds: Paul Gentilozzi contracted with Lexus to develop the new Lexus RC F GT3, and he hired sports car ace Scott Pruett and IndyCar graduate Sage Karam to drive the car. It was supposed to show up in the IMSA series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, then Detroit, and now word comes that it won’t be here at all this year – maybe the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. In Gentilozzi’s defense, the car he was given had proven to be a pig in racing in Europe, so there’s a good chance this is more of a ground-up development than Gentilozzi signed up for. And certainly more than Pruett and Karam anticipated, but presumably they are getting paid anyway.
Exactly how the new Acura NSX GT3 is coming we can’t really say, but the car made a sort-of debut this weekend at the World Challenge races at Mid-Ohio – the sanctioning body allowed the car to “practice” with the other GT3 cars, to give Acura a benchmark. Really, it’s more of a publicity stunt, and a very good one – Acura knows exactly where they are in relation to the competition. But until the car is homologated in September by the FIA, it’s all for show.
Bottom line, we’ll certainly see the Acura NSX GT3 in World Challenge races next year, fielded by the longtime Acura factory friend Realtime Racing. Will we see the NSX GT3 at the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona next year? We’re guessing there’s a 50-50 chance, but if Acura is serious about seeking the spotlight, it will have to race at Daytona and in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring