Farnbacher Racing’s Dominik Farnbacher has described the 2017-spec Lexus RC-F GT3 as “a big step forward” after winning on its competition debut in VLN9.
Sharing with younger brother Mario, Farnbacher finished 33 seconds ahead of the ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Alexander Sims and Stef Dusseldorp, with newly-crowned GT Masters champions Christopher Mies and Connor de Philippi third in the Land Motorsport Audi. It was the first time an Asian brand has ever won a VLN race outright.
Despite not completing any dry running before the race and having to utilise a baseline setup, Farnbacher found that the 2017 RC-F was immediately on pace with the old model, which showed fleeting promise in 2015 – taking second on only its second appearance in VLN5 and pole position in VLN7 – but was all too often plagued by teething problems.
Although the Lexus has completed its Balance of Performance test, it has yet to receive a 2017 homologation from the FIA and therefore ran in the SPX prototype class. Nevertheless, Farnbacher believes that the victory was a fair reflection of the car’s future potential.
“I think it’s quite representative, it really reflects the performance of the car,” explained the 32-year-old, who only received the car on the Tuesday before the event. “We were working for two years almost on the old car and we were not that competitive, but the new car is a big step forward.
“The issue on the old car was that the chassis was really weak, so the chassis is definitely a lot better. The engine power stayed the same, but the car is more efficient, that was a big step forward for making nine laps on the Nürburgring and they also brought the overall weight down by another 40kg.
“The aero on the car has improved by a lot from the old car, the balance is better and the car is really good in braking too, that’s a big highlight. Drivability for the driver comfort is amazing, I didn’t sweat one tear! The old car was always a bull ride, but this one was very comfortable, especially in tricky conditions like we had last weekend. The only downside we have is the high drag on the long straightaway, that hurts us a little bit, but on the Nürburgring that’s something you have to live with.”
Farnbacher accepts that there will be some changes made to the car after an FIA technical delegate completes a parts inspection in November, but the German – who helped develop the SRT Viper which won the first GTLM title of IMSA’s new era 2014 – is quietly confident that the work put in behind the scenes by Toyota Racing Development in Japan will still enable the car to be competitive once homologated.
“A few things will change, but it will be more or less stay the same, how it appeared at the Nürburgring – it’s quite a competitive package,” he said. “Seeing the step from the old car to the new car is huge, that really shows that there is a lot of work done on the car.
“I was there in the beginning of the year for a shakedown test on the new car and since that point, a lot of things changed. If you see all the people in the background and think ‘wow, there are so many people involved!’ At the test when we arrived in Japan, I would say there was probably about 50 people running around the car, it’s amazing. Toyota didn’t have any experience before in building a GT3 car, they only have experience in building Super GT cars and that’s it, but they really put a lot of effort in.”
*crosses fingers and toes* pic.twitter.com/J075Ru4HGI
— British GT (@BritishGT) October 11, 2016
Farnbacher wouldn’t be drawn on his family team’s plans for next season, but admitted that it is unlikely to include the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“At the moment it was VLN, for next year we have not decided yet what the plan is,” he said. “Next year the car is brand new and will do the first half of the season mostly testing, we will not drive a full season in any championship, and then towards the end of the year then we will go to the competition side. Where we will go we are not sure yet but the ultimate goal is of course the Blancpain Endurance or Sprint series.
“It’s not decided yet if Toyota will attack [the Nurburgring 24] but I doubt it will happen next year, not that early.”