Home / Auto News / News article: Lexus Returning to Nurburgring 24 With New LFA Race Car - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Mar 16 2010, 8:48 AM

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For the third straight year in a row Lexus will compete at the Nurburgring 24 Hour race, once again using one of its LFA supercars. And much like the past two years, the team will be operated by Gazoo Racing, which fields Lexus race cars in Japan’s Super GT series.

There’s no word from Lexus yet on what class the LFA will run in but judging from the pictures it seems like a more track-focused model than the past pre-production models. Lexus also isn’t messing around when it comes to racing talent, fielding a team of six Japanese and German drivers with some very impressive resumes. Included among them are six-time Super Taikyu Endurance Series champion Takayuki Kinoshita, 2002 JGTC GT500 winner Akira Iida and 2008 Nürburgring 24 Hour second place finisher Jochen Krumbach.

This year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour races takes place from May 13 to 16th and we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Lexus’ efforts.

News of this new Nürburgring racer comes just a day after rumors of a Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition surfaced.

GALLERY: Lexus LFA Nürburgring Racer

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Official release after the jump:

TMC Outlines Motor-sports Activities for 2010
-Grass-roots Motor-sports Activities to be Enhanced-

Tokyo-TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC), which views motor sports as an ideal medium for conveying the dreams and excitement associated with motor vehicles, announces that it will continue to promote motor-sports activities as a key means of bringing more joy to people through automobiles. TMC’s effort this year will not only reinforce its support for motor sports, but also bolster its grass-roots motor-sports activities, thereby creating more opportunities for people to easily experience the joy that motor vehicles can offer.

Motor Sports
In Japan, TMC will seek to win its second consecutive title in the Super GT GT500 class with the Lexus “SC430″, following its victory last year in both the driver and team categories. TMC will also continue to supply engines to the Japanese championship Formula Nippon, the top category of formula car racing in Japan, with the goal of recapturing the title with a Toyota-powered car.

In the United States, meanwhile, TMC will race the Toyota “Camry” in the NASCAR pinnacle Sprint Cup Series. TMC will also aim to win the Nationwide Series, where it has won the manufacturer’s title two times in a row along with winning its first driver title last year. This year TMC will again race its Toyota “Tundra” in the Camping World Truck Series, hoping to extend its winning streak after having already won the manufacturer’s title for four consecutive years.

Grass-roots Motor Sports
TMC will enhance its support of consumer-participation motor sports through its GAZOO Racing1 activities, which are designed to spread the joy and dreams that motor vehicles offer. A number of programs will be held at the Fujispeedway Motorsports Dream 2010 in late March, and TMC will incorporate feedback from participants to improve the programs and increase opportunities for even more people to participate. In addition, TMC will enter the Lexus “LFA” in the 24 Hours Nürburgring endurance race2 for the third time. Competing in this grueling race directly will allow TMC to toughen its vehicles, while the hands-on participation of TMC personnel will also help foster the caliber of personnel needed to create outstanding vehicles.

TMC will also continue the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP), which aims to train the world-class drivers of the future. This year the program will assist eight drivers, including Kamui Kobayashi, who is expected to make great progress this season.

Furthermore, to promote environmentally friendly motor sports and to improve the efficiency of hybrid systems (including those for production vehicles), TMC will continue developing hybrid systems for motor sports.

Outline of TMC’s 2010 Motor-sports Activities

1. Super GT
TMC will support teams in this premier Japanese racing series through Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd. (TRD). The vehicle scheduled to participate in the GT500 class is the Lexus SC430, powered by a 3.4-liter V8 engine (RV8KG).

The Lexus “IS350″ powered by a 3.0-liter V8 engine (RV8J) and the Toyota “Corolla Axio” powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine (2GR) will participate in the GT300-class races.

Supported Teams
Class Team Car No. Vehicle Drivers Remarks Tire*1
GT500 LEXUS TEAM PETRONAS TOM’S 1 Lexus SC430 Juichi Wakisaka (Japan) – BS
Andre Lotterer (Germany) -
LEXUS TEAM LeMans ENEOS 6 Lexus SC430 Daisuke Ito (Japan) – BS
Bjorn Wirdheim (Sweden) -
LEXUS TEAM KRAFT 35 Lexus SC430 Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan) TDP*2 driver BS
Kazuya Oshima (Japan) TDP driver
LEXUS TEAM
ZENT CERUMO 38 Lexus SC430 Yuji Tachikawa (Japan) – BS
Richard Lyons (Northern Ireland) -
LEXUS TEAM SARD 39 Lexus SC430 Andre Couto (Portugal) – DL
Kohei Hirate (Japan) TDP driver
GT300 RACING PROJECT
BANDOH 19 Lexus IS350 Manabu Orido (Japan) – YH
Tatsuya Kataoka (Japan) -
apr 31 Toyota Corolla Axio Koki Saga (Japan) – YH
Kosuke Matsuura (Japan) -
apr 74 Toyota Corolla Axio Takuto Iguchi (Japan) TDP driver MI
Yuji Kunimoto (Japan) TDP driver
*1BS = Bridgestone; DL = Dunlop; YH = Yokohama; MI = Michelin; *2Toyota Young Drivers Program

2. Japanese Championship Formula Nippon
TMC will provide 3.4-liter V8 engines (RV8K) to five teams (eight vehicles) in this top category of Japanese formula car races. All vehicles will use Bridgestone tires.

Supported Teams
Team Car No. Drivers Remarks
Team LeMans 7 Kei Cozzolino (Italy) -
8 Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan) TDP driver
KCMG 18 Katsuyuki Hiranaka (Japan) -
TEAM IMPUL 19 Joao Paulo de Oliveira (Brazil) -
20 Kohei Hirate (Japan) TDP driver
DELIZIEFOLLIE/CERUMO-INGING 29 Takuto Iguchi (Japan) TDP driver
PETRONAS TEAMS TOM’S 36 Andre Lotterer (Germany) -
37 Kazuya Oshima (Japan) TDP driver

3. NASCAR
TMC will once again compete in all races of the NASCAR National Series with the support of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and TRD-USA. Race vehicles in every category will be fitted with Goodyear tires.

Sprint Cup Series
The Sprint Cup Series is the pinnacle of NASCAR. TMC has been racing with the “Camry” in the series since 2007 (when it was called the Nextel Cup Series).

Supported Teams
Team Car No. Drivers*
Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Denny Hamlin
18 Kyle Busch
20 Joey Logano
Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann
56 Martin Truex Jr.
JTG-Daugherty Racing 47 Marcos Ambrose (Australia)
Red Bull Racing 82 Scott Speed
83 Brian Vickers
*All from the U.S. except where indicated

Nationwide Series
The Nationwide Series is the next most-popular series after the Sprint Cup Series. TMC has been racing with the Camry in the series since 2007 (when it was called the Busch Series).

Supported Teams
Team Car No. Drivers*
Joe Gibbs Racing 18 Kyle Busch and others
20 Joey Logano and others
Braun Racing 10 David Reutimann and others
11 Brian Scott
32 Brian Vickers and others
38 Jason Leffler and others
Diamond-Waltrip Racing 99 Trevor Bayne
Germain Racing 15 Michael Annett
Rusty Wallace Racing 62 Brendan Gaughan
66 Steve Wallace
*All from the U.S.

Camping World Truck Series
Since 2004 TMC has been racing with the Tundra in the Camping World Truck series, which was called the Craftsman Truck Series until 2008.

Supported Teams
Team Car No. Drivers*
Kyle Busch Motorsports 18 Kyle Busch and others
56 Tayler Malsam
Billy Ballew Motorsports 51 Aric Almirola
Germain Racing 30 Todd Bodine
Randy Moss Motorsports 5 Mike Skinner
81 David Starr
Red Horse Racing 7 Justin Lofton
17 Timothy Peters
Stringer Motorsports 90 Brad Sweet
*All from the U.S.

4. Grass-roots Motor Sports
Centered on GAZOO Racing activities, which seek to spread the joy and dreams of automobiles, TMC provides grass-roots motor sports that aim to communicate the joy of owning, driving and talking about cars to more people and car fans.

Programs
GAZOO Racing promotes car-enjoyment programs that enable participants to experience motor sports and circuits firsthand.

The programs outlined below will be conducted during the Fujispeedway Motorsports Dream 2010 (at Fuji Speedway) on March 28. TMC will use the participant feedback to expand programs and activities in the future.

Programs that “Challenge”
Hybrid Driving Lessons
This program, based on the Prius Cup for Toyota dealers, is an eco-driving contest using hybrid vehicles. Owners of hybrid vehicles compete on a circuit against each other on fuel efficiency. Friends and family can also participate as navigators, providing support as the drivers complete the course within a set time.

Smooth Slalom Challenge
For this program, participants compete to drive the smoothest on a pylon course. Even beginners can experience the joy of driving while learning more about how automobiles behave.

Programs that “Educate”
Short Circuit Driving Lesson
This program is conducted on a circuit that allows participants to experience the joy of improving their own driving skills. Instructors provide individual lessons to teaching basic knowledge and various operations for smooth vehicle control, such as the correct use of the accelerator, the steering wheel and the brakes.

Driving Lesson for iQ GRMN Owners
This program helps “iQ GRMN” owners learn about and understand the unique driving characteristics of their vehicle. Designed to enable deeper enjoyment of the “automotive seasoning” of the vehicle.

24 Hours Nürburgring
The 38th 24 Hours Nürburgring endurance race will be held at the Nürburgring Circuit in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, from May 13 to 16. This marks the fourth entry for the GAZOO Racing team and the third entry for the Lexus LFA. Participation in this grueling event, which is one part of GAZOO Racing’s activities, is intended to temper Toyota-produced vehicles, spread the joy of motor sports and support the development of personnel who can create high-quality motor vehicles with “automotive seasoning”.

GAZOO Racing Team for 38th 24 Hours Nürburgring
Name GAZOO Racing
Vehicles Lexus LFA (2)
Manager Hiromu Naruse (Toyota master test driver)
Mechanics TMC personnel

GAZOO Racing Drivers for 38th 24 Hours Nürburgring
Name (Nationality) Results
Takayuki Kinoshita (Japan)
- Japanese driver who has participated the most times in the 24 Hours Nürburgring and finished the highest (5th overall)
- Six-time winner of Super Taikyu Endurance Series
Akira Iida (Japan)
- Winner of 2002 JGTC GT500-class race
- Overall winner of the 1995 and 2007 Tokachi 24 Hours Race
Juichi Wakisaka (Japan) Winner of the 2002 JGTC race and 2006 and 2009 Super GT GT500-class races
Andre Lotterer (Germany) Winner of 2006 and 2009 Super GT GT500-class races
Kazuya Oshima* (Japan) Winner of 2007 Super GT GT300-class race
Armin Hahne (Germany) Winner of the 1982 and 1983 Total 24 Hours of Spa race
Jochen Krumbach (Germany) Second overall in the 2008 24 Hours Nürburgring
*TDP driver

Netz Cup Vitz Race
These participatory races feature street-legal “Vitz RS” TRD Racing racecars that are based on the 1.5-liter Vitz RS. The drivers compete for the championship in five regional series held on seven circuits in Japan, with seeded drivers selected from series winners to compete in a grand final in November.

More than 200 racers have entered individual series to compete this year.

5. Other Support Activities

All-Japan F3 Championship Series
Formula Three is the first step toward F1. TMC will provide 1AZ-FE engines to the three teams (four vehicles) participating in the C-class races and provide 3S-GE engines to vehicles participating in N-class races, which began in 2008.

All vehicles use Hankook tires.

C-class Teams
Team Car No. Drivers* Remarks
PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S 1 Yuji Kunimoto (Japan) TDP driver
36 Rafael Suzuki (Brazil) -
DENSO Team Le Beausset 62 Koki Saga (Japan) -
Hanashima Racing 5 Katsuaki Kubota (Japan) and others -
*Scheduled

N-class Teams
Team Car No. Drivers* Remarks
TOM’S SPIRIT 37 Naoya Gamou (Japan) TDP driver
*Scheduled

Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)
This entry-class category-in its fifth year-features specially and independently designed FCJ vehicles (FC106). This year, the FCJ has scheduled 12 races at six race events.

Additional Support
Japan
Support will be provided to the Toyota Motor Sports Club (TMSC).

United States
TMC will provide engines to the Midget Series, Sprint Series and Silver Crown Series of the United States Auto Club (USAC) and also provide engines to the NASCAR-based vehicles participating in the Off Road Championship Series (TORC). Support will be provided to four teams participating in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag races and TMC will sponsor the Long Beach Grand Prix, marking TMC’s 36th sponsorship of the race since 1975. TMC will also sponsor Race 16 (Infineon Raceway) of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Other Races
Dakar Rally
TMC supported the participation of Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd., with a Toyota “Land Cruiser 200″. The vehicle won the Dakar Rally: Argentina-Chile held in January 2010 in the market-vehicle segment, marking its fifth consecutive win since 2005.

6. Driver Development

Support for Kart Racing Activities
TMC will support Yamaha Kart Works activities in the All Japan Kart Championships along with other events to assist the discovery and development of promising young kart drivers.

Formula Toyota Racing School (FTRS)
The Formula Toyota Racing School (FTRS) has been held since 1995 under the umbrella of TDP as a three-day, two-night racing school at Fuji Speedway that covers everything from the basics to participation in non-sanctioned races. (Formula Toyota vehicles are used at the school.) The school provides a way for TMC to conduct appropriate driving education and promote the sound expansion of its motor-sports foundation through the discovery and cultivation of racing drivers who will be able to compete in top racing categories in Japan and around the world. A tryout is held among the most outstanding participants with future prospects to select a driver who will receive a scholarship for the following year.

In 2010, FTRS is scheduled for August 24-26

Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP)
This program is aimed at cultivating drivers who hope to compete in top racing categories, both in Japan and throughout the world. It is dedicated to identifying new talent and allows participants to improve in line with their own respective abilities. The program is being offered in Europe and Japan, as outlined below.

List of Trainee TDP Drivers for 2010
Driver* Team Category Remarks/Last Year’s Results
Europe Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber F1 Team (Switzerland) F1 World Championship
- First Japanese driver to win the GP2 Asia series (2 wins)
- GP2 series (16th overall)
- Third driver of the Panasonic Toyota Racing F1 team
- Raced in Rd. 16 Brazilian GP (9th place)
- Raced in Rd. 17 Abu Dhabi GP (6th place; 18th overall in series)
Kazuki Nakajima Undecided Undecided AT&T Williams race driver (20th overall in series)
Japan Kohei Hirate TEAM IMPUL Formula Nippon 5th overall in series
LEXUS TEAM SARD Super GT (GT500) 14th overall in series
Hiroaki Ishiura Team LeMans Formula Nippon 6th overall in series
LEXUS TEAM KRAFT Super GT (GT500) 9th overall in series
Kazuya Oshima PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S Formula Nippon 9th overall in series
LEXUS TEAM KRAFT Super GT (GT500) 9th overall in series
Takuto Iguchi DELIZIEFOLLIE/
CERUMO-INGING Formula Nippon All Japan F3 Championship C-class (5 wins; 2nd overall in series)
apr Super GT (GT300) 10th overall in series
Yuji Kunimoto PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S All Japan F3 Championship
(C-class) 4 wins; 3rd overall in series
apr Super GT (GT300) 10th overall in series
Naoya Gamou TOM’S SPIRIT All Japan F3 Championship
(N-class) FCJ (3 wins; 3rd overall
in series)
*All Japanese