The RC F completes VLN2—the preliminary race for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring—in 17th position
The Qualifying Race for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring took place on April 15–17. Approximately two weeks later, on April 30, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing competed in Race 2 of the VLN Endurance Championship (VLN2). Though each of the three racecars encountered problems during the Qualifying Race, these had been resolved in time for the start of VLN2.
Both the C-HR Racing and RC F ran problem-free at the practice sessions held on April 29. The RC encountered engine trouble in the afternoon, but the mechanics worked through the night and managed to find a solution.
Light rains fell over Nürburgring on the morning of the 30th; though the weather cleared up before the start of qualifying, the track surface remained wet. Qualifying took place from 8.30am to 10.00am, and the three racecars were fitted with rain tires for their first assault on the circuit.
The RC ran smoothly at the start of the session thanks to the efforts of the team mechanics the previous night. Unfortunately, however, with Takayuki Kinoshita at the wheel, the racecar was forced to stop trackside due to issues with its drive train and abandon qualifying. The RC was subsequently towed back to the paddock but, recognizing that it would be impossible to fix the issues before the start of the race, the team decided to retire the vehicle.
The C-HR Racing, meanwhile, completed a trouble-free qualifying session. In wet conditions, the racecar at one point held the fastest time in its class and qualified in 174th place overall.
The RC F switched from wets to cut slicks as track conditions improved; the circuit dried further, and the team were considering whether to pit for slicks when the vehicle’s rear-right tire burst. The racecar managed to limp back to the pits where slick tires were fitted. Then, with less than ten minutes to go, the RC F launched a succession of fast laps to secure 28th position overall.
The race itself was four hours long and began at midday. The track surface was wet due to light rains that fell just before the start of the race, but the sun came out to create the difficult conditions commonly associated with the Nürburgring. The C-HR Racing and RC F both started the race on rain tires.
20 minutes after the start, the race leaders pitted for slick tires. The RC F followed suit after completing its second lap and, as the track surface completely dried up, the C-HR Racing also came in to make the switch.
1hr and 15mins into the race, Masahiko Kageyama reported vibrations coming from the front-left of the C-HR Racing. Although the team replaced the vehicle’s driveshaft in the pit lane, the vibrations continued. Realizing that the problem lay elsewhere in the vehicle, and judging that the problem could not be fixed in the paddock, the team decided to retire the vehicle.
Conditions see-sawed between dry weather and light rains, and the RC F continued to rack up the laps without incident. With just 20 minutes to go before the end of the race, the rain started to fall more heavily. However, the driver for the final stint, Takuto Iguchi, carefully saw out the remainder of the race on slick tires, and secured 17th place overall for the team.
The RC and C-HR Racing were unable to perform satisfactorily due to mechanical issues. However, the timing of these issues means that it will be possible to resolve them before the start of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring; consequently, the two retirements may well be blessings in disguise.
Dealing with unforeseen troubles in a race environment also provides an opportunity for growth for both the cars themselves and the team members involved.
Of course, there is now less than on month before the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and time is of the essence. Each of the three racecars has a variety of problems; so that they can all participate in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in best condition, the engineers and mechanics will be working non-stop. Everything is aimed at creating ever-better cars.
Akihiro Osaka, C-HR Chief Mechanic
“We will be able to fully resolve the drive train problems that occurred during VLN2 as there is still sufficient time. The other parts of the vehicle worked flawlessly. As far as the handling and aerodynamics are concerned, we made improvements to a number of parts after the Qualifying Race, and our thoughts correspond with the evaluations of the drivers. The mechanics had the opportunity to practice dealing with major issues in a race environment; they did not panic, and they worked safely, but I want them to try to work even more efficiently.”
Minoru Takagi, RC Chief Mechanic
“The troubles we experienced during this race are difficult to understand. However, we now recognize that it is possible for our racecar to develop such issues, and we will work to resolve them in time for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Following the last race, we have now encountered problems at two events in succession—there were lots of issues, but it is a fact that these issues will make us stronger. As the saying goes, failure is a stepping-stone to success. Rather than explain everything in words, people remember much better when they encounter such issues in practice.”
Tsutomu Tojo, RC F Engineer
“When all six pit lane spots are taken, it is very difficult. Having said that, it is the same for everyone, and we want to proceed on a principle of safety first. By completing this race, we were able to gain an understanding into the lifespan of the tires and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and we will use this data when creating our strategy for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. We are not sure if this race result is indicative of our true speed as the track was wet for a lot of the time. Considering the performance gap with the top racecars, we are not completely satisfied but we feel we have done reasonably well. The 24 Hours of Nürburgring is a long race, so we want to survive to the end and aim for a place in the top ten.”
|1st No.160 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing with TOM'S/LEXUS RC F Overall 17th|
|SP 2T CLASS|
|-th No.380 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing/ TOYOTA C-HR Racing Overall -th|
|SP 3T CLASS|
|-th No.300 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing/LEXUS RC Overall -th|