In the lead-up to Team World Car Awards' first race at the Nurburgring on August 29, three juror/drivers and Toyota Europe's Lexus race crew caught up at the track on July 31 for a shakedown and practice session in the Lexus IS-F. Under the watchful eye of Team Europe's chief mechanic, Norbert Kremer, and with valuable advice and support from German-based veteran juror and team manager Yoshihiro Kimura, jurors Greg Kable, Michael Taylor and awards' co-chairman Peter Lyon donned their suits and helmets for chief Kremer's introduction to the car.
After a couple of orientation laps in Toyota's well-known Ring car, the black Supra (which has done over 140,000kms on the Ring), while a Toyota test driver fine tuned the IS-F's race suspension setup, it was out for two quick laps in the 420hp four-door sedan.
With the full 20km-long Nordschleife (North Route) available for testing, all three drivers were able to push the car and the tyres to their limits, each completing five laps. Shod with Yokohama slicks, team drivers found the IS-F to have excellent cornering and straight-line stability while being extremely stable under full braking from 250km/h, even though drivers noticed a slight amount of understeer. Kremer says that his team has developed a unique carbon-fibre front spoiler that will "take car of the understeer and improve handling to an even higher level." In traffic on test day, all drivers averaged lap times be tween 8 minutes 40 seconds to 9 minutes flat.
Come race day, on August 29, three World Car Awards jurors will take turns behind the wheel in a 4-hour endurance race, which just happens to be part of the process to qualify for the 24-hour Nurburgring race next May. Team World Car Awards' driver list for the first race includes ex-Indycar racer and current Japan GT Series' driver Hideshi Matsuda, Gran Turismo game simulator creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Japan-based journalist Peter Lyon. Matsuda drove in last year's 24-hour Nurburgring race, and has also competed in 24-hour endurance races at Spa, Le Mans and Daytona.
Meanwhile, Yamauchi has done well over 2000 "virtual" laps of the Ring in creating his game, but has also clocked up over 50 laps on the "real" track in a variety of test cars. Lyon, who races a Mazda MX-5 in a one-make series in Japan, has also completed over 30 laps of the real track, and tells us that he has been practicing in an IS-F on Yamauchi's latest version, Gran Turismo 5, due out in December this year.
Kable and Taylor, who drove in the initial test, will both race in the second 4-hour event at the Ring on October 17.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Co-chair, World Car Awards
|Supra and IS-F being re-fuelled in pits prior to test.||Lyon listens as Kremer explains suspension setup.||Lyon, Kimura and Taylor discuss strategy.|
|Belting up for first lap in IS-F as Kremer assists.||IS-F hugging the apexes.||IS-F exits corner under full throttle.|
|IS-F flies through the second-last corner before the straight.||Team World Car Awards will not miss a photo op.|