Team Lexus has been working feverishly to develop the new IS 350 racecar for the ALMS GT2 class, and it looks like they're getting closer to the start line.

According to Lexus motorsports manager Philip Gaviola, the team expects to begin testing the new car in the next few weeks, ahead of a race debut in July. That means we can likely expect the Lexus to appear either at the Grand Prix of Utah in mid-July, or at the Grand Prix of Portland at the end of the month. In any event, its unlikely that Lexus will give the nod for the team to go racing until the car is able to turn competitive lap times in testing.

As you might expect, the specs for the IS 350 GT2 are being kept under wraps, but a press release suggests a racing weight of less than 2,800 pounds, propelled by a "more than 450 hp" production-based V6. Regardless of the level of preparation, Team Lexus will face an uphill battle joining the series mid-way through the season, particularly in the very tough GT2 class, where it will face a host of Porsche GT3s, the Panoz Esperante GTLM, BMW's M3 and the very quick Ferrari F430GT. No official word yet, but expect another newcomer to join the series later in the year - rumors are rampant that BMW will field a Z4 M Coupe.

[Source: American Le Mans Series via Paddock Talk]