LFA Nür 24 Podium Finish & IS F CCS-R Development?
Just this morning, Car No. 79 completed the Nürburgring 24 hour race with a podium finish. Good for 2nd place of the SP8 class and finishing 37th overall, this race prepped Lexus LFA was the only one fielded in the "Green Hell" to take on Germany's finest. Unfortunately heavy rain and fog hampered conditions forcing a red flag status for several hours.
Gazoo Racing supported a total of four vehicles for the N24 weekend. Two were entered into the SP8 class which included #79 Lexus LFA and #79 Lexus IS F CCS-R and two other entrants in the SP3 class consisting of two Toyota 86's #165 and #166 respectively. Unfortunately Toyota 86 #165 to be driven by LFANürburgring lap time record holder, Akira Iida and "Morizo" suffered some damage in a mishap during a qualifying run. Iida-san was driving at the time but thankfully escaped injury. During qualifying, Gazoo Racing LFA managed to claim the 30th grid spot of the top 40 fastest cars in the N24 with a fast lap time of 8:36.398. The #166 Toyota 86 finished 2nd in the SP3 Class, 64 overall.
Nürburgring 24 Qualifying - Top 40 (Lexus LFA)
|0030||79||Gazoo Racing||SP 8||Kageyama, Ishiura, Oshima, Morizo|
The race started under overcast but dry skies but conditions quickly changed once the sunset. When the conditions got bad, speeds did not exceed 180 km/h. Luckily for the LFA, Drive Mode Select was quickly switched from SPORT to WET mode to ensure the driver's safety At about 9PM CEST, heavy rain hammered the green hell and a red flag was thrown up. The whole field pitted and the Gazoo Racing Team parked all the cars in the garage.
The lengthy red flag pause overnight allowed the Gazoo Racing team some much sleep as you can see in the pic below:
The race resumed promptly at 8 AM CEST with conditions that varied from intermittent rain to clearing skies. Despite the erratic weather all weekend, the Gazoo Racing team constantly switched tires to comply with the concurrent conditions. Because of the hampered conditions throughout the race, the LFA was only able to manage a fast lap time of 9:01.719 but it did secure a 2nd place spot in the SP8 class. Morizo was enlisted to pilot the LFA for the last 30 minutes of the grueling race. The LFA completed 79 laps, just 2 laps short of the number one spot.
Nürburgring 24 Final (Lexus LFA)
|0037||79||Gazoo Racing||SP 8||Kageyama, Ishiura, Oshima, Morizo|
Lexus LFA #79
The #79 Gazoo Racing LFA Team consisted of a mixed bag of experienced drivers. #79 driving team included seasoned 24 hour Le Mans driver, Masahko Kageyama, Super GT (GT 500) and Formula Nippon champ, Hiroaki Ishiura, another Super GT (GT 500) & Formula Nippon Champ, Kazuya Oshima and not to forget, test driver, race car driver, car lover, President & CEO of Toyota, Akio "Morizo" Toyoda.
This LFA race car is a revamped prototype that is lighter than the previous and features more integrated aero parts and mid-body air intake scoops which closely matches those on the production LFA.
The interior also gets cleaned up with the removal of the waterfall center console, now exposing the carbon fiber housing the torque tube. The dash panel gets a simplified overhaul mimicking the stock LFA dashboard with alcantara surfacing. The stock steering wheel is a take-off unit from the production LFA which houses the turn signal and wiper stalk and the stationary metal paddle shifters.
The instrumentation is version 1 of the dynamic TFT LCD display minus the moving bezel which would normally showcase the cars vitals:
The engine in this LFA race car features a massive radiator which funnel into twin carbon air intake tubes and meet at a larger carbon fiber surge tank to help produce musical Yamaha-tuned sounds. Plug wiring has been rerouted and computer boxes which normally hug the 1LR-GUE are placed in various locations of the chassis.
IS F CCS-R #78
Not much has been mentioned about about the Toyota Technocraft-built orange Lexus IS F CCS-R but we spotted it! The modified orange IS F ran many laps during the beginning and during the end of the race according to the stats and it was spotted several times on various parts of the track. The Circuit Club Sport Racer driven on and off by race champ, Lexus ambassador Takayuki Kinoshita and TMC test driver, veteran Nür 24 driver, Yoshinobu Katsumata. It's unknown why they only ran it for a few laps or why it wasn't featured anywhere, but we suspect that this is an undercover exercise for possible future development. Can you say next generation IS F or could it be the rumored RC F? The guessing game continues.
Nürburgring 24 Final (IS F CCS-R)
|0163||78||Gazoo Racing||SP 8||Kinoshita, Katsumata|
Former race queen and Gazoo Racing ambassador Miss Yuki Imai was the on-site reporter for the Gazoo Racing UStream live feed. As she was reporting throughout the entire race, a photo of the late Hiromu Naruse (which sits above on a shelf behind her) was always visible during the broadcast. Naruse-san a.k.a. the "Nur-Meister", a master Toyota test driver, spent countless hours developing and improving the Lexus LFA and other Toyota and Lexus vehicles at the Nürburgring. The spirit of Naruse-san carries on and is a reminder to the team of the achievements he's paved for the future.
We congratulate the entire Gazoo Racing team for safely completing this world renowned endurance race. We encourage Gazoo Racing's presence in Lexus motorsports globally and hope one day Lexus returns to racing in the USA once again.
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Photos Courtesy: Gazoo Racing, Lexus Europe, Tras Racing