Car Feature>> Shift Gt300 Lexus Is350

If there is a will, there is a way. The Team Takeuchi Lexus IS you see here is quite an interesting car, it was created out of need, and as we will see shares very little with the Lexus IS you and I know. The project was handled by Shift Racing, a highly technological outfit that for years has been building cars that participate in Super GT, Super Taikyu and the Japan Porsche Cup.

With the phasing out of the little MR-S, used by some teams up until 2008, Shift knew that they needed to look to the future with their GT300 project that kicked off back in 2007. The idea came to base the build on the Lexus IS, an unconventional choice for a race car, making it a perfect one to feature for our current Misfits and Mavericks theme.

Super GT regulations are pretty lax compared to a lot of other race series out there. Provided the base car is a production car and the engine is made by the manufacturer teams can play around with lots of configurations, allowing even free choice in positioning and orientation. This is why the engine of the Team Tekeuchi with Shift race car now lies where the rear seats are usually found on a regular IS.

I headed to Fuji Speedway to find out more about this interesting race car, during an open practice session Shift Racing was having.

Like most GT race cars out there, seeing one of these creations up front usually takes your breath away. The almost caricature-like body has been altered to provide as much downforce as possible and wrap around the wheels, now sitting as far out as possible to increase front and rear track, and therefore lateral grip.

The busy Fuji Speedway circuit was eerily quiet that day which meant I pretty much had the whole pit lane to myself when shooting the Green Tec Kumho IS, the official name of the car.

I love how the front fenders protrude well above the stock hood line of the IS, as if the car was cut around the skirt line and pushed down over the wheels. The test driver was constantly going in and out of the pits to test the suspension adjustments the Shift mechanics were making.

Positioning the engine centrally within the chassis has allowed the IS to obtain an optimal weight balance that benefits every aspect of the car’s handling and performance. As long as the central section of the chassis remains the same as the stock cat it is based on, Super GT regulations allow for custom front and rear tubular structures to be created. The engine and gearbox in this configuration become stressed elements of the chassis; if you look closely you can see how the tubular subframe that originates from the firewall, there to separate the cockpit from the rear of the car, connects directly to the Xtrack sequential transmission behind the engine. This is also where the bell cranks for the in-board push-rod suspension are located. The IS runs the same RV8J Toyota Motorsport engine as used on Formula Nippon single seater race cars. This lightweight, dry-sumped 3L V8 is good for over 550 HP in that configuration, but for the Super GT300 class it is forced to breathe through 24.8 mm air restrictors that drastically lower power to the 300 HP mark every car within the class needs to adhere to. The IS weighs in at 1,200 kg so 300 horses are quite sufficient for some fast lap times, plus one has to remember these cars vehicles are more about handling than outright performance. Check out that massive carbon air scoop that forces air down through the air box, wrapped in gold foil for the best heat insulation possible.

Positioning the engine so low and centrally in the chassis creates a few problems with heat build up, and as you can see the Shift Racing mechanics have taken every measure possible to insulate the titanium headers and surrounding areas.

Super GT stipulates that tires are to be the same size all round, meaning the Tan-ey-sia single-nut forged wheels measure 11Jx18″ front and rear and are shod with 280/710 R18 Kumho Ecsta slicks. More gold insulation as the exhausts runs along the carbon diffuser towards the rear of the car.

The Lexus grille is probably the only thing that is shared with a stock street IS!

I’m a big fan of all those complicated looking rear canards that take advantage of the air flowing around and under the body to increase rear downforce. Mind you the rear wing probably takes care of most of the downforce!

On top of Green Tec and Kumho, Maziora is also a sponsor, and the whole body is painted in a mother-of-pearl hue that shifts shade depending how the light hits it.

When the mechanics took the wheels off it was a perfect opportunity to get a shot of the forged alloy monbloc AP Racing calipers. Carbon discs are not allowed in Super GT. You can also get a glimpse at the custom double-wishbone suspension layout, which is all rose-jointed to allow the geometry to be finely tuned.

Removing the engine up front has left a lot of space to play with. The front outermost area is taken up by the radiator which is housed in a tight fitting carbon box that provides the core with an optimal flow of air, immediately expelled from the hood vents once it has done its job. The rest of the “engine” bay is taken up with the custom front subframe onto which the suspension is mounted.

Here is a closer shot of one of the billet bell cranks that transfers the suspension movements onto the vertically mounted Quantum dampers. You can also see the mounting point of the adjustable stabilizer bar.

Things are pretty cosy for the driver and I’m guessing rather hot with the 3L V8 screaming away behind the carbon-Kevlar Recaro seat!

Everything is within easy reach, from the gear selector for the Xtrac sequuential to the two levers that adjust the front and rear anti-roll bars. LCD and rear-view camera are a must to see what is going on behind.

The IS is able to lap the Fuji Speedway track in the mid 1-minute 40-second range, which makes it about 10 seconds slower than the top GT500 cars like the GT-R, NSX and SC430.

Manabu Orido actually won the 2009 GT300 championship behind the wheel of the Weds Sport IS350…

…making the IS350 a successful replacement to the little MR-S. Hope you enjoyed this look into a modern Super GT car!

-Dino Dalle Carbonare



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Looks at those brakes!! i didn't know that Carbon discs are not allowed in Super GT, but those looks like it would stop on a sixpence...


would love to have that engine bay (3rd photo) photo as a desk top, engineering at its best


Love it ! Don't even know the engine is mounted in centre o.o !


Back looks incredibly like a DTM car.


I love gooooooollllddd!!! Sweet GT300 IS350. I love Super GT. If only it is televised here in America...


"The Lexus grille is probably the only thing that is shared with a stock street IS!"

The rear looks basically stock...

Looks good - can't wait till we get some video footage of it.


@ daniel, the engine is mounted in the center for weight distribution, the better the weight transfer, the more consistant the car will be, as well as being easier to control.


Excellent write up and coverage of this amazing car. Really wish any of this was televised in the US. Also, the second picture from the top would make an amazing desktop.... Pretty please?


@ Kai, I think the exact same. That rear reminds me of DTM all the way


I love this game....

more SUPER GT cars please :)


oh , great !

I love this game SUPER GT.....

more SUPER GT cars,please

just like:celica,supra,mr-s,ipreza......


Nice one, looks really like a DTM one...


Hmmm...I'd like to see a little more resemblance to the actual car. If the engine sits in the middle, atleast they could tune the 3.5 v6... Just something to market the appeal of owning an IS. Who am I kidding though, I'd still rather see that in the states over a lot of other stuff here.


Wow, that's some impressive stuff!


Yeah it is almost hard to believe that carbon-ceramic rotors aren't allowed in many racing series; not even in the ALMS GT classes. I hate seeing that gorgeous engine being choked down to only 300hp when its capable of so much more. It makes me wonder how well it would propel that IS with its full 550hp.


Woooohoooo a real deal GT race car here and what a fantastic set of pix and article to match! Amazing car and what superb attention to detail, so fun to see these cars interior bits and suspension setups, makes my engineering brain go bonkers! Thanks for the awesome feature, you've made my work week a lot better.


amazing car, great pics, and nicely written article! excellent work. top quality speedhunters stuff.

the whole car is amazing but I really love the dashboard, carbon galore and those serious looking switch panels! I would love to see how the antiroll bars are adjusted from inside the car, thats just too cool :)

ps desktop also please!!


nice feature amazing car


Great pics! some good ideas on this car...great fab work,

all in all nicey done.

Right click, save as...keepers


@Apex Dog

They use the 2GR-FSE in the GT300 corolla axio.


Long live the JGTC MR-S


one amazing looking Lexus IS


An amazing car, great article and photography guys, its nice that a Super GT team allowed you to get close up to the car like that although I wouldnt expect the factory GT500 teams to be so open.

More articles on SuperGT would be greatly appreciated. Would you be able to do a writeup on the JLOC Lamborghinis that have raced in JGTC/Super GT over the years please?


Thanks for the feature.

I would love to see more Super GT car features, as I have always had an interest in the series and would love to know more about the setups various teams are running.


I've been watching DTM on Speed over thew past few weeks and those cars don't even compare. I know the rules are much stricter in DTM but the Super GT car's engineering is amazing!


isn't 2010 rules going to prohibit MR cars from participating in this race series?


If only the road going IS350 was half as tuff as the GT300 car!

IS-F is cool but still too soft around the edges like most Lexus ;')


Super GT was 7 second faster than DTM


Does the 2010 regulations did not change for just the Front engine car ???


It's the end of the SC430, I can not wait to see what the surprise is that we offer for 2011 toyota SuperGT500 !!!


@Erick ...i was wondering the same thing about the rule changes AND if this IS had/has to deal with the same penalties the Honda teams suffered with their NSX's because they were mid engine rwd.


Amazing feature! Love to see more like this.


This car is extreme! The engine pics are great, we need more detailed pics of engine components!


We need more post of such!  Great job SpeedHunter!!