• Aug 18th 2006 at 4:57PM
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Autoblog readers will recall that we reported on Lexus' plans to enter a modified GS450h hybrid in a 24-hour endurance race last month. Well, the race has been run, the results are in, and the big Denso-sponsored Lexus came home a remarkable 4th in class and 17th overall. Making the result even more significant is the fact that the Tokachi 24 hour race marked the first time a hybrid vehicle had entered an FIA-sanctioned circuit race.

Lexus team SARD ran a conservative race, their first competition outing with the new car, steadily moving up the overall classification from 30th at the six hour mark to 17th after 18 hours.

Despite being stripped and lightened for racing, the big sedan still passed over the scales nearly 300 lb over the allowed minimum weight for its class - a huge disadvantage that probably contributed to a mid-race pit stop to change brake rotors. The hybrid powertrain necessitated some unusual pit stop procedures - the crew had to regularly replenish the dry ice cooling system for the trunk-mounted batteries.

With the FIA already looking at regenerative braking and alternative powertrains for its flagship Formula 1 series, don't be surprised to see more hybrid cars in international motorsports in the next few years.

More pics after the jump.

[Source: Lexus team SARD]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Not a lot of bright people on AB these days. By pushing the technology to its limits, it allows for excellent R&D opportunities. You have to start somewhere. The things Lexus/Toyota learns on the track will someday be applied to their production hybrids. Get a clue!
      • 9 Years Ago
      The reason why Toyota is so successfull in racing is because it dumps huge amounts of money into it. All of it's technology is factory backed. Most of it was stolen by traitor crew chiefs and engine builders they pryed from existing NASCAR teams. They lost a 6 million dollar lawsuit because of the theft. The domestics do very little in the way of R&D in racing. They supply a foundation and leave the subtle tweaks up to the individual race teams. Toyota should spend a little more money paying it's American employees decent wages with benefits than worrying about winning every race and making this country the Mexico of Japan.


      Letting Toyota into Nascar Will be the death of Nascar. Most fans are grass roots people with strong convictions. They are blue collar workers seeing their average wages being lowered by foriegn companies buying up the U.S. and paying less wages and benefits from the jobs being tranfered. They are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. They are not the modern fair weather type who lick their finger and stick it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
      • 9 Years Ago

      I thought I remembered you....you were the guy swinging baseball bats at Toyotas during the 90's right?

      Good times, you idiot, good times.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I read some funny comments on this thread that Toyota/Lexus is only racing a hybrid for marketing purposes.

      Um, people, that's why ALL the car manufacturers pour money into racing. Remember: "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday."

      Did you really think car manufacturers sink billions of dollars into racing because they find it an enjoyable diversion?
      • 9 Years Ago
      All in all it’s a great achievement, 4th in class for the first time out. It isn't like the recent Audi v10 diesels but it sure is commendable. As mentioned before the hybrid version of the GS is quicker than the normal V8, which was the main selling point of this vehicle. Not to save fuel, because it doesn't, it's the quickest of the GS models. I don't have any details but an endurance race would be the best fitting for a hybrid vehicle. If it can maintain a good average speed around the track the ability to be able to go a longer distance per refuel will give it the advantage.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I love to see techical inovation and variety on the race track. To me a race is just as interesting for the engineering of the different entries as it is for the driving skill and pit lane decisions on the day. I lost all interest in the premier production car class here in Australia when rule changes made it a two horse Ford vs Holden V8 showcase. If the technolgy is viable on the show room floor, and hybrid is selling very well despite its price disadvantage, then I would like to see how that translates to performance in production car classes. Lets see the return of the 4's vs the 6's vs the 8's, atmos vs turbo, rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive vs four wheel drive, all on the same race track on the same day going head to head in a production car series, and if hybrids and alternative fuel and other new technology vehicles want to come out and play, so much the better for the spectical I say. So long as the cars can meet saftey requirements and are real production vehicles. Lets cut the v8's are better than fours, and hybrids are useless as race cars talk, and ACTUALY SEE FOR REAL, what is the best technology for the a particular day on a particular track.
      • 9 Years Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      "if they want to race, get a crew and run against Ford, Chevy and Dodge and watch them get their asses creamed."

      Check the photos for the other cars this GS is racing against: race-prepped M3s, S2000s, and Evo VIIIs. Oh, I think it could handle a Chevy or Ford, short of a Le Mans C6R.

      I'm not sure where this knee-jerk negativity over a hybrid race car comes from. Sure, it's a marketing ploy. So are the "Fusion" and "Monte Carlo" badges on NASCAR-spec race chassis. And Danica Patrick.

      Regardless of the manufacturer or the technology involved, there is, on some level, the potential to learn lessons that can translate to consumer vehicles. If anything, the relatively nascent state of hybrid technology means Toyota will get more out of this than most racing ventures.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I still haven't been enlightened by many of you know-it-alls!! None of you have been able to explain the true benefits of running a hybrid car.

      The question I was alluding to was, during an entire race, can a battery retain enough energy to assist with the acceleration of the car? I have a feeling there is not enough, hence, my questioning the benefits of hybrids in races. Once the battery is dead, you are driving a regular gasser! Maybe they ran 75% of the race as an overweight gasser...which we will never know!

      Maybe I'm wrong, but nobody has address the efficiency of the entire vehicle. The added weight is a tax on performance, the generator/motor is also a tax on performance -when it's charging the battery.

      Regenerative breaking recuperates some of the kinetic energy, but surely not enough for the power demands of a race.

      Nothing is for free, except for the recuperated energy from the breaking. It requires energy to charge the battery, which cost fuel.

      I’m not questioning the virtues of hybrids, but rather their purpose in a race. In a race, both performance and efficiency are key. The TDIs definitely have both. Not sure if the hybrids do.

      Maybe the hybrid producers felt they needed to try and offset some of the positive publicity that the TDIs have received with their impressive Audi wins!

      • 9 Years Ago
      Everytime Toyota gets into something "new", everyone makes fun of them, like here on AB. I remember Iococca tauting Toyota in the mid-80's to make those cars here in the US if they were going to be a serious automaker. And they did build about 14 plants over the last 20 years, and still growing. People laughed when they got into IRL and Craftsman truck. Now look at how they are winning. And they will do well in Nascar. And NO, Nascar will not cease to exist because Toyota is in it. Nascar will continue to grow right along with Toyota.

      This denial of reality and delusional thinking is the same as the big 3 management over the last 20 years. Never taking Toyota seriously. But now, it is about too late for them. DCX is just going to become a second tier automfg. GM will survive but never get back to their previous world dominance. And I am not sure if Ford is gonna make it, if they don't make some serious changes quick.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I think this actually would have some benifits over the standard model. At least in Best MOTORing the GS450h was a full second faster than the GS430 around Tsukuba Circuit. 7 tenths slower than a Fuga 450GT (Infiniti M45) though. So I don't know about any fuel economy benefits, but the hybrid is faster than the standard car around a track.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Wow! Such negativity. Kudos’s to those of you who are wise enough to understand the positive R&D that racing really is.

      As for those with the comments about marketing, yes, you too are semi-correct, and that is where the sport gets the money to exist, so stop your complaining and enjoy the show....you just might learn something.

      When Toyota, Honda, Mitzzy or even late to the table Nissan do something, they put a whole lot behind it, and they do so with the intention of dominating it. This is where not only American car companies have been failing, but where American's fail. Once upon a time GM, Ford and Chrysler were the dominate players not only on the auto world, but in technology, manufacturing and more...(AC/Delco, Lear, Mopar, Kingsford, etc...).

      Today these once great companies are run not by entrepreneurs and car people, but by short sighted MBA's and Bean Counters who know little if anything about the world’s of wheels, wings or rails, hence the decline of America in these great industries.

      We do seem to be turning this around with people who are not only educated in the fine art of business and/or science, but also have a passion for that which is wheeled, winged or railed. Bravo to our nation for that.

      In the mean time, keep in mind racing is competition, and the future will be won, by those that do the work and take the losses now. So where is the GM hybrid’s and flex-fuel trucks that should be creating a buzz on the NASCAR circuit? Where is Fords AFV that could be taking awards at Baja? Where is Chryslers diesels that could be Audi a run in Can Am and Trans Am? Hey, Dr. Z, you’re new clean diesel in the new Challenger (running the races) and with a AAR or T/A package (when the car wins, and it will) could do wonders for both sales and for diesel reputation/technology/marketability. So where is it?

      While we are on the subject, if you question all of this, look at General Aviation. America has held the leadership position in this industry for decades and by right and capability it should. With two whole new spectrums of development about to come to market, are we (America) about to get our butts beat again? Our companies, Piper, Cessna, and many others are struggling and debating staying in the game. In the mean time great new American companies are being born by entrepreneurs Cirrus, Adams, and many others are addressing the high end of the new spectrum, VLJ’s (very light jets), but HONDA has announced well known plans to enter the fray, and we all know, Honda does not go where it does not know it will dominate and play to win. Does anyone see an issue? Of course, HONDA in its wisdom has chosen to design, build, test and ultimately produce it’s new (wonderful) VLJ here in America!

      Isn’t it funny how Mercedes, BMW, Honda and so many others turn to America to improve their product, and succeed in doing so? Now what was that question about why bother to race a hybrid? Get with the program folks! Have a great day!
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