Grip, grip, grip! That's what shocked me most about the ride I got today in the Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA. I have been around Fuji numerous times but being slingshot through corners by a professional driver in a very modern race car has redefined the laws of physics for me. It all started early this morning when the Toyota people had a bunch of gaijin hacks join them at Fuji Speedway for a fully packed day of driving. The highlight of the day was the ride along in the LFA.
Being a closed event the track was eerily quiet with a deserted pit lane only open to the number 51 Gazoo Racing Lexus.
The 4.8L Yamaha-tuned V10 under the carbon fiber hood is nothing short of a masterpiece, beautiful to look at, as it is to hear.
The driver doing the rounds was none-other than veteran GT driver Takayuki Kinoshita, one of the men that piloted the LFA around the Nurbugring 24h race in May. I originally met Kinoshita-san back in 2002 at the Nurbugring 24h when he drove the legendary Falken R34 Skyline GT-R. He is a true expert when it comes to driving the "Green Hell."
What to say about my lap. It was over so quickly, so much happened in that short time. As I struggled to film the outing on my iPhone I also tried to process what was happening. The engine is all about response with a towering pull through all the gears, the 9,000 rpm redline coming up lightening fast. Kinoshita looked like he was really connected to the car, fine tuning throttle inputs through the corners to play with the chassis's balance, helping it slice through even the trickiest of corners right on the limit of grip. And on top of the sensational unsilenced V10 concerto, it was the grip that impressed me the most. The huge slick tires let the LFA to carry so much speed through the bends, but allowed a little controllable play that Kinoshita took full advantage of. And the brakes, my Lord the brakes. With such high levels of grip, he started braking when I thought we were already dead, smashed up against the Armco! If only my car could stop half as good as the GR LFA I'd be a happy man. After shooting back into the pits I thanked Kinoshita and exited the car with the biggest grin ever!
This is fellow Speedhunter Len Clarke showing the kind of grin I'm talking about after his ride with the LFA! The video of my ride has already been posted up on the Speedhunters Facebook page, so if you want to hear the fury of those ten screaming cylinders make sure you don't forget to turn up the volume and select HD for the full effect. Alternatively, click here to see it directly on YouTube.
It certainly is a unique looking car isn't it?
The second session of rides was given by GT driver Akira Iida of Chockets fame. His legendary AE86 was on display at the 86 Style exhibition on the second floor above the pits, but more on that soon!
As most other journalists were enjoying taking test drives of an impressive lineup of Toyota production cars from around the world, I made sure to grab a few more shots of the LFA when it was brought back into the pits.
The front end was left splattered with the remains of German bugs from the 24h race! Definitely made it look more menacing…if that is even possible!
Unlike the production car, the GR LFA only had two exhaust outlets.
The massive front Akebono brakes. Akebono has for years been a supplier of OEM braking systems on JDM cars, like the calipers found on the Z34 370Z and G37 Infiniti. Their brakes are also used by the Mercedes Benz F1 team and they are expanding their aftermarket products list all the time.
The interior is a very cozy place with comfortable Recaro bucket seats and a very high carbon fiber transmission tunnel where most of the switchgear is located. A slightly modified version of the digital display of the production car is used, something you can see on the video I made.
The driver's carbon-Kevlar bucket is very deeply bolstered, just what you need when your race car pulls jet-fighter levels of lateral Gs!
To prepare the car for the trip back to Gazoo Racing it was fitted with a set of intermediate tires. Yes, they are very wide!
Takes two people to torque-check the center-lock wheel nut.
Another look under the hood…
…and if you look carefully you can see the two intakes are fitted with…
…ADAC certified air restrictors that helped make the playing field at the Nurbugring more even.
Carbon fiber hood with hydraulic hinges. It is a Lexus after all!!
The famous rear-mounted radiators.
At the end of the day the LFA was loaded up into a special transporter, ready to head back to the garage for some maintenance after doing non-stop laps for the press throughout the day.
I'd like to give a special thanks to Toyota Japan for the invitation to such a great event. This is just a taste of what's about to come, as we take a look at a few special concept cars as well as the G's FT86. Len will also have lots to show you, so stay tuned for some more Toyota goodness!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare