Hybrid Cars go racing
World famous for their refinement and comfort, Lexus cars are also proving to be great racing cars. The SC 430 has succeeded the iconic Supra in the Super GT series and the GS 450h petrol-electric hybrid tackled a Le Mans-style 24 hour race.
SC 430 – Supra Successor
Four of the 15 teams competing in the 2006 Super GT series run a Lexus SC 430, with Team Cerumo’s Yuji Tachikawa and Toranosuke Takagi currently in joint second spot on the drivers’ point rankings.
Scottish driver Peter Dumbreck also drives a Lexus SC 430 for Team Kraft and is currently ranked tenth.
In race trim the V8 SC has around 500bhp. They are in action in Japan this weekend as they take part in the legendary ’Suzuka 1000km’ which is a round of the Super GT field for the first time.
GS 450h – Electric Endurance
Meanwhile the Lexus GS 450h, the world’s first rear-wheel drive hybrid power sports saloon, made its motor racing debut in Japan’s only 24-hour race last month.
The high-performance hybrid shone at the Tokachi International Speedway in Hokkaido (in northern Japan) finishing fourth in its production car class and 17th overall in a field of 33.
The gruelling, twice around the clock event allowed Lexus engineers to collect data on the potential of hybrid systems in motor sports, especially relevant as such systems are being discussed for imminent introduction to Formula 1.
The racing GS 450h added to hybrid motor sport history, joining the Toyota Prius which was the first, and remains the only hybrid car to start and finish an FIA sanctioned event, the 5,000mile Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally in 2002.