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V8s not too lowbrow, says Lexus

Lexus will focus their motorsport efforts on developing their GT3 racer, rather than enter V8 Supercars.

The beer and bourbon aura of V8 Supercars racing isn't what stopped a Japanese luxury brand competing in the category.

Back in 2014 Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley commissioned a study to find if racing in V8 Supercars could improve the brand's profile. One year later the result was a thumbs-down.

"We made a conscious decision that we won't enter V8 Supercars in 2017," says Hanley at the recent international launch in Spain of the Lexus GS F, the company's new V8-powered sports sedan.

People liked the idea of us being in V8 Supercars

"The obvious question you'll have, and I'll pre-empt, is were you worried about your brand image with V8 Supercars?".

"Let me dispel any rumour or myth that we were in any way worried," Hanley says.

"Our research, in fact, indicated quite the opposite. People liked the idea of us being in V8 Supercars.

"Our customers were fine with it. It wasn't a market issue, and I really need to make that clear because already I see some press out there where we might have been worried about the association and what it did to the brand."

Hanley says that Lexus Australia has now shifted its sights to the champagne GT3 category. These racers are built to satisfy an internationally recognised set of rules. GT3 cars must be based on a road car that's in mass production, but there's great freedom when it comes to engine size, chassis construction or car layout.

The Lexus Australia chief clearly sees GT3 as a smarter bet than V8 Supercars

Lexus's GT3 racer, based on its V8-powered RC F coupe, is still being developed.

The project has the backing of the company's head office in Japan.

A prototype was shown at the Geneva motor show early in 2014 and the car has been raced in Europe this year.

The Lexus Australia chief clearly sees GT3 as a smarter bet than V8 Supercars. Where GT3 racers are closely related to the road cars they're based on and constructed to a globally recognised formula, neither is true of V8 Supercars.

"We have no intentions of owning a team," Hanley adds. But Lexus Australia will look at importing ready-made racers.

"We may have a GT3 for a team to buy and race … the Bathurst 12-Hour, et cetera."

Hanley also denies the company baulked at the considerable expense of developing a V8 racer. "It was never a money issue for us to go into V8 Supercars, because, frankly, we could afford it."

Hanley says Lexus will continue to supply the Safety, Course and Medical cars for V8 Supercars events "into 2016, and possibly beyond".