It’s not everyday a secret Japanese prototype gets to run in one of the world’s big endurance races but that’s what happened when Lexus entered the LF-A in the recent Nurburgring 24 Hours. Talk about stranger than fiction.
But Lexus’s decision to run it in the 24 Hours Race, surrounded by braying German race fans and motorsport photographers was amazing. This is a major event and it was unprecedented for Toyota/ Lexus to even think about putting a car this exotic and high profile on the world stage so early in its development process – it’s still officially a concept, remember.
Lexus sensibly managed expectations before the race began. The object of the exercise was officially to provide engineering feedback rather than to achieve a strong finish.
Obviously the LF-A earning an extra measure of track cred at the same time would be far from unwelcome. The Nissan GT-R has been winning the Japanese supercar PR battle of late, and Toyota clearly doesn’t want us to forget the LF-A before it even arrives.
Over the 24 hours, Lexus’s matt black LF-A mule went the distance, finishing 121st and completing 106 laps. Not great, but no disaster either. Brakes and wheels appear to be giving trouble, which is apparently holding up development. But at the end of the day, the result vindicated Lexus’s ballsy decision to actually run the car.
What next? Well the latest word from inside Lexus is that the LF-A should finally come out in 2010/2011, may well get to be called GT500 and will probably cost the thick end of £130K - and counting.
Of course, like the fabled weather at the Nurburgring, that’s subject to change.