42 24 HOURS NÜRBURGRING
There is one event that really defines what the Nürburgring is all about—the annual 24 Hour endurance race (N24). While it’s a big party for spectators, the N24 is a major stage for racing teams and manufacturers to test and prove cars. Most teams involved are German, one major exception being Toyota’s GAZOO Racing—the big boy Toyota/lexus team handling WRC and WEC among others. GAZOO Racing has spent a lot of time at The Ring in the past, having raced the likes of the GT86, Camry, CH-R, IS, RC, and LF-A to name a few. This year, the company brought out a new toy: a specially prepared Lexus LC 500. Details about its specs are sparse, but the car is classified as “SP PRO” (aka, a prototype), so it’s not on the level of a Super GT vehicle or any of the normal GT3 SP9 class cars at N24 from Porsche, BMW, or Mercedes.
GAZOO says the purpose of all its racing efforts is to help make better road-going cars, which is a pretty universal truth across brands. In the case of the LC, the things learned from N24 will help further develop the racing chassis for next year, plus future cars. And then, there’s the whole “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” thing…
The LC started off strong on the first day, turning fast times in practice and ultimately qualifying 32nd overall in a field of 146 starting cars. Come race day, the LC experienced a few problems that required electrical work, some special attention to the brakes, and even a detailed inspection of the powertrain. But despite it being down periodically, I kept seeing the car every 9 minutes. The honest truth about a 24hour race is that for the vast majority of the field, it’s not really about winning—it’s about finishing. GAZOO Racing finished 96th overall, completing 97 laps. Might not sound that spectacular, but a number of teams retired early due to crashes or mechanical failures. GAZOO made it, finishing the Nürburgring 24 Hours with a brand-new car, and that really is an incredible accomplishment.