TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) entered the LEXUS LC in the opening round of VLN Endurance Racing Championships Nürburgring (VLN) for the first time this year. Among the 157 entrant, LEXUS LC finished its race at 25th place overall, and completed the first mission to prepare for the 47th of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race, which will be held at Nürburgring, Germany from June 22th to 23rd, 2019. Behind the scenes, car-making was progressing steadily towards so called “ making ever-better cars”.
For TGR, this is 13th year since we started to join the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Nürburgring is not only the place of origins for us to start thinking about making ever-better cars, but also the place to train people to develop road cars.
For the first round of VLN, TGR LEXUS LC was driven by not only Naoya Gamou, a racing driver who is leading the development of the LEXUS LC this year, but also two other racing drivers. Hiroaki Ishiura and Kazuya Oshima, who are well experienced, and contributed to the team for long time.
The start of VLN race was delayed, and condensed to 2 hours and 45 minutes, due to heavy fog in the morning. Gamou took the starting driver, and the race was started at 3:15 pm, on March 23rd.
He made much faster laps than he made at qualify session of 24 Hours of Nürburgring last year.
“I developed the car as easy to drive, compare to the one we drove last year” said Gamou.
After 7 laps of Gamou, Oshima also drove 7 laps before changing to the last driver, Ishiura. Although it was first time in 3 years since he drove Nordschleife, Oshima made fastest lap of 8:29.624, among the team. “I did not drive Nordschleife for 3 years but as I go in to the course, my body remembers everything” said Oshima.
The anchor driver, Ishiura also made some good laps even though he had some yellow flags in the course and forced to drive slower. “I lost some stability of the car when the temperature of the tires went down, but it was acceptable and I felt some progress compare to the time I’ve tested the car in Japan”, said Ishiura after he finished the race.
Last year at 24 hours race、LC had faced some unexpected problems that did not occur in the development tests. So that the engineer and mechanics made much effort to prevent even the minor problems for this year. “off course we are confident that we will not have same kind of problems. But also we made much efforts to build up the performance. And we’ve got lots of data today that we need to look into”, the chief mechanic Toshiyuki Sekiya said after the race.
For the next race, TGR is planning to join the VLN3 held on April 27th, and qualify race on May 18th. Then, we will be ready for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
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