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Is the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) Performance Sub-Brand the Real Deal?

Is the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) Performance Sub-Brand the Real Deal?

Seemingly every car manufacturer is coming out with its own little niche performance group. You have Honda with its Si line, Infiniti with its IPL line, Mercedes with AMG, BMW with M, Ford with SVT/SHO, and so on. Toyota has used a tag like that before – Toyota Racing Department (TRD) – but the TRD lineup was typically nothing to write home about, as it included some stickers and mild suspension mods, in most cases.

Toyota once again has a racing team, Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), and it has worked closely with Lexus on the 641-horsepower LS-F, which inherited the “TMG” tag. So this leads us to wonder if Toyota and Lexus will start using the TMG name more widely to compete with the aforementioned performance sub-brands throughout the automotive world.

With Infiniti debuting its IPL lineup, it only makes sense for at least Lexus to use TMG to help pry some of the performance luxury enthusiasts away from its Japanese competitor. Toyota, on the other hand, has really dug itself a nice little niche in the automotive market, by manufacturing moderately price economy cars with a high level of standards. So us seeing a Toyota Corolla TMG in the near future, or ever, would really surprise us.

But we also have to keep in mind that Toyota shattered its own econo-box mold recently by teaming up with Subaru to build the Toyota GT 86 and Scion FR-S, so anything is really a possibility. We’ll keep a close eye on the TMG situation and let you know if more information comes up as to whether TMG is going to become more involved in Toyota’s street cars or not.

For now, we’ll just continue drooling over the one-off LF-A TMG…

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2012 Lexus IS-F CCS-R Race Car

2012 Lexus IS-F CCS-R Race Car

In 2011, Lexus unveiled the IS- F Club Circuit Sports Racer Concept at the Tokyo Auto Show. Today, the company has introduced the production version of that concept that will compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 8, 2012.

The Lexus IS-F CCS-R will be powered by a 5.0 liter V8 engine that delivers a total of 416 HP at 6,600 rpm and a peak torque of 371 lb.-ft. at 5,200 rpm. The engine will send its power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic with paddle shift and manual mode.

For improved aerodynamics, the IS-F CCS-R received a carbon fiber hood, door handles, front fender, front spoiler, front canard, rear spoiler, and ventilator. Painted in a very cool Orange mica color, the race car sits on a new set of 18" wheels combined with a high-performance brake cooling system. Since this is a race car, Lexus also added a racing brake kit, racing exhaust system, and, of course, a roll cage.

UPDATE 06/11/2012: The new Lexus IS-F CCS-R is
preparing for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 8, 2012, so Brian Smith, VP Lexus Marketing, does his part by explaining the modifications made to the car’s engine and body. Check out the video by clicking on the image above!

UPDATE 10/31/12: A surprise appearance at the 2012 SEMA Auto Show, the Lexus IS-F CCS-R Race Car sure knows how to make waves in the biggest aftermarket show in the US. Can’t say we saw this one coming.

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Video: The Toyota-Aston Martin CEO Supercar Swap

Video: The Toyota-Aston Martin CEO Supercar Swap

Company CEOs usually have a kind of competitive understanding of each other. There’s nothing personal about; it’s just the way business works.

In the case of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and his Aston Martin counterpart Ulrich Bez, the truth couldn’t be any further from the truth. After already establishing a mutual working relationship between the two companies - the most recent of which was sharing the Toyota iQ platform with the Aston Martin Cygnet - Toyoda and Bez have become closer to each other than most CEOs that consider themselves competitors, albeit in a slightly stretched manner.

The latest collaboration between the two doesn’t involve a new auto partnership but instead, swapping race cars during the VLN auto series with Toyoda driving the Aston Martin V12 Vantage ’Zig’ and Bez manning the wheels of a Lexus LF-A Gazoo Racing.

Whether this video is merely a publicity stunt or it’s really a genuine show of competitiveness between the two is unknown, but the fact that you have the CEOs of two of the most accomplished auto brands in the country speaks to the ever-growing relationship between Aston Martin and Toyota.

Check out the video to see how the two CEOs fared in riding the race cars of their contemporary.

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2011 Lexus LFA by Gazoo Racing

2011 Lexus LFA by Gazoo Racing

Aston Martin and their V12 Zagato Racer better be on top of their game when it comes to this year’s 24-hours of Nürburgring. Lexus, in cooperation with Gazoo Racing, will be entering the race with a pretty impressive LF-A supercar that should give fellow racers a run for their money.

During its latest testing, the Lexus LFA by Gazoo started off from position 12 and finished the race in fifth place with an average speed of 161.139 km/h. Its fastest lap was completed with an average speed of 170.540 km/h, corresponding to a lap time of 8:34.416 for the combination of the shortened GP-track and the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. This is an impressive result considering that, at a previous test session, the car suffered a stroke of bad luck another car crashed into it when the LFA driver, Ishiura, was entering Turn 1. This resulted in a severely damaged rear righthand section, retiring the vehicle from the race.

Gazoo Racing has been working with the Lexus LFA for the past three years, even before the street version of the vehicle went on sale in 2010. During that time, Gazoo has been revising the vehicle to obtain maximum results on the track. These revisions include tuning the vehicle’s underbody with carbon fiber reinforced plastic, as well as switching out its tires for Bridgestone racing tires, size 330/40R18. Gazoo also took the liberty of adding a few aerodynamic parts to complete the look and feel of the racer. Under the hood, we’ll find the same 4805 cc V10 engine with over 560 HP coursing through its automotive veins.

Make sure you check out the Lexus LFA at the ADAC 24 hour race on June 25, 2011, but for now, hit the jump to see a video of Hiroaki Ishiura, one of three professional drivers who will be piloting the LFA on the day of the race, as he gets through some of the vehicle’s testing.

Video after the jump.

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2011 Lexus CT 200h Race Car by Gazoo Racing

2011 Lexus CT 200h Race Car by Gazoo Racing

Just when you thought the Lexus CT200h wasn’t going to get another race-inspired version, the people over at Gazoo Racing have unveiled their own racing version of the compact sports hybrid. Seems appropriate considering that Gazoo Racing isn’t a stranger to Lexus race cars, counting the LF-A supercar as one of the racers in its stable.

As for the CT200h, Gazoo Racing will be entering it into the SP4 Class of the Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy - a six-hour endurance race at the Nurburgring that will be attended by around 200 other cars. Piloting the Gazoo Racing CT during the endurance race will be the three-man team of Kumi Sato, Masahiko Kageyama, and Minoru Takaki.

To give the CT200h the proper race specs, Gazoo Racing went to work on the car’s performance attributes, opting against using the 1.8 liter VVT-I petrol engine that comes with the standard version of the CT200h and instead using a much larger 2.4-liter version with an electric motor, a generator, a high performance battery, a power control unit, and a power split device. During start-ups and braking, the CT200h will only use its electric motor, saving all the energy expended by the VVT-I engine for higher speeds. Even more impressive about the car is that it will require less fuel and will emit less carbon dioxide and NOx gases compared to all other race cars of its class.

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Lexus to build GT-spec version of the LF-A for the FIA GT1 series

Lexus to build GT-spec version of the LF-A for the FIA GT1 series

When the Lexus LF-A finally made its way out on the streets, it was inevitable that the supercar would likewise find itself in a race track sometime in the future.

Well, according to Motor Trend, the future, apparently, is now.

Reports are coming in regarding Toyota’s intention of bringing the Lexus LF-A to the FIA GT1 championship series where it is looking at taking on its Japanese arch-rival, the Nissan GT-R.

Despite talks for its entry into the GT1 series, the LF-A isn’t exactly a racing neophyte after participating at the Nurburgring 24-Hour Race in the past two years and even winning the SP8 class’ race this year. With enough racing development and experience under its belt, Toyota is becoming more and more confident that their new Lexus-branded supercar is ready to move into a more competitive racing series, one in which Godzilla has been running roughshod over recently.

The thought of watching these two Japanese heavyweights duking it out for GT1 supremacy is already getting us completely amped up. Let’s all hope that all this talk leads to a race-track smackdown between the two supercars.

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Lexus returns to 24 Hours of Nurburgring with two LF-As

Lexus returns to 24 Hours of Nurburgring with two LF-As

The 2009 24 Hours of Nurburgring was a forgettable one for the Lexus L-FA prototype – it burned to the ground – so it wasn’t all that hard to assume that the car is headed back to Nurburgring for some unfinished business.

Unlike last year, this year’s 24 Hours of Nurburgring competition will see Lexus bringing a standard production of the LF-A, which is the first time the V10-powered supercar will participate in a racing competition of any kind.

Two LF-As will be on hand for the four-day event and Lexus, together with Gazoo Racing, is leaving no stones unturned as far as preparations are concerned. The team will be comprised of Hiromu Naruse, Toyota’s pre-eminent test driver, who will lead a team that’s made up of four Japanese drivers and three German counterparts including six-time winner of the Super Taikyu Endurance Series, Takayuki Kinoshita; Akira Ida, overall winner of the Tokachi 24 Hours in 1995 and 2007; Armin Hahne, winner of the Spa 24 Hours in 1982 and 1983, and Jochen Krumbach, who came in second overall in the 2008 Nürburgring 24 Hours.

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Video: Lexus LF-A super car at the Nurburgring

Video: Lexus LF-A super car at the Nurburgring

We have all heard about the future super car from Lexus, the LF-A; but what you may not know is that Gazoo Racing is campaigning a pair of prototypes in endurance races all across Europe. This not only serves to give the brand racing credibility before it is even on the market, and also allows the automaker to conduct performance and reliability testing in some of the most demanding environments in the world.

Despite Gazoo’s setback at the Nurburgring24, the team is continuing to develop the car for the track and Lexus is finishing off a very limited number of production versions for the street. This video offers a rather unrestricted view of the LF-A as the car is put through its paces by the English racing team.

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2009 Lexus LF-A N24

2009 Lexus LF-A N24

I apologize because we here at Top Speed could only bring you blacked out concepts or cartoon designs of the Future Luxus LF-A super car. Please let Top Speed officially present to you, the Gazoo Racing LF-A Nürburgring 24 competitor.

Even though it is a racecar and because of this is equipped with safety equipment like a roll cage, fuel tank and everything else in the rulebook. Things you most likely won’t find on the production version include the GT wing and other aerodynamic features. However one thing that might carry over is the large LCD gauge cluster.

Although this is not quite the street version, it is nice to finally have someone pop the hood to willingly expose the 500 HP V10.

Press release after the jump.

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2007 Lexus IS-F Racing Concept

2007 Lexus IS-F Racing Concept

At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Lexus revealed the racing version of the IS-F sedan. And even if Lexus said "It is only a research prototype", the IS-F Racing Concept will be used at the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) racing.

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Lexus IS-F Racing Concept new images

Lexus IS-F Racing Concept new images

As we previously reported, Lexus will unveil the IS-F Racing Concept at the Tokyo Auto Saloon. Here’s the second image of the concept, this time in orange; it just looks gorgeous.

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Lexus IS-F Racing Concept to be unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon

Lexus IS-F Racing Concept to be unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon

Lexus will unveil at the Tokyo Auto Salon a racing version of its IS-F sedan. next to the IS-F Racing Concept, Lexus will present the IS-F sedan and the SC430 Super GT.

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