42 24 HOURS NÜRBURGRING

Super Street - - Contents - WORDS & PHO­TOS Nate Hassler

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.

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