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15041In spite of the new, clearer picture of the Lexus IS F Concept Racer on the track that you see on the left, the overall picture of its precise raison d'être is, if anything, muddier than ever, even in the face of <A HREF="http://news.windingroad.com/aftermarket/japan-report-lexus-is-f-racing-concept/">an informative and eye-opening article by veteran Japan correspondent Peter Nunn of Winding Road "webzine"</A>, whom we last heard from in <A HREF="http://my.is/forums/f41/lexus-working-f-r-348383/">an article on the rumored Lexus IS-F/R.</A> Here's his latest:

Japan Report: Lexus IS-F Racing Concept
Tucked away under the lights at the Tokyo Auto Salon tuner show last week was the Lexus IS-F Racing Concept, this mysterious-looking IS-F festooned with huge fenders, wheels and spoilers looking like a refugee from Germany’s DTM race series.

What gives? Nobody on the Lexus stand was saying a word. Details on this wild IS-F were precisely and frustratingly zilch. Deliberately so, it seems.

It now transpires the car’s the pet project of IS-F chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi, a true rev head who built it not just for fun but also so that IS-F engineers can experience ‘true driving pleasure’ and something of what a full race IS-F might just feel like.

Word is, the car’s a complete one-off with no plans to race it in competition even though it definitely looks the part, and you imagine it must be something else to drive.

Meantime, a completely different racing Lexus IS-F is reportedly in the works for the GT300 category of this year’s Super GT championship in Japan.

Super GT? It’s Japan’s top race series, the nearest thing the nation has to NASCAR. Draws huge crowds and with 30-40 car grids makes for spectacular racing.

Right, and we now have it on good authority that this GT300 class IS-F entered by the Japanese Bandoh team will in fact be mid-engined, a configuration that’s already raised eyebrows and been described by one Super GT official as “crazy.”

Will it work? This mid-engined IS-F silhouette racer is set to appear at the opening Super GT test session at Suzuka at the end of February. Then we’ll find out.

Japan Super GT 101
Described above as Japan's answer to NASCAR (or to Germany's DTM series for the more Euro-centric among you), the Super GT 101 (as in the most basic, entry-level college course) title is a bit misleading. <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_GT">An informative Wikipedia article</A> tells us that GT500 and GT300 are the important alphanumerics in this series. They denote not only the two classes within the series, but the maximum horsepower allowed in each class. These power outputs are capped via the use of intake restrictors although some heavier cars are given allowances to run larger restrictors to maintain parity.

The higher GT500 class is dominated by the Japanese "Big 3" carmakers, with Toyota's Lexus SC 430, the Nissan GT-R (replacing the Fairlady/350Z) and the Honda/Acura NSX. Regulations are considerably looser than most GT classifications, and teams are free to change engines with other models made by the manufacturer, change the alignment of the engine, or add forced-induction systems to models which do not normally have it. The chassis may also be heavily modified, with lightweight tube-frame "clips" being allowed forward and back of the main cockpit, although the car must overall look similar to its road-going variant. These regulations result in cars which are possibly the fastest GT racing cars in the world. The rationale for this was to allow manufacturers to field competitive cars without having to spend large amounts of money for homologation versions of the race car's road car counterparts.

The lower GT300 class cars, on the other hand, are much more regulated than their GT500 counterparts, and much more closely resemble road-going versions. Chassis clips and realignments are not allowed (except the latter in the case of front-wheel drive cars), which results in a much more affordable racing experience for privateers. Few works (factory) teams participate in this class, yet the sheer variety of cars can be mind-boggling. Porsche tends to dominate with its 911 GT3 model making up the bulk of the field. Lamborghini has seen success in a move down to this class from GT500, and even Daytona Prototypes such as the Lexus-Riley that Chip Ganassi Racing has campaigned so successfully in North America have seen action in Super GT300 racing.

A detuned, mid-engined Lexus IS F racer. Does it really make sense?
Given the Super GT500 Lexus SC430's respectable showing (including <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Super_GT_season">two outright victories) in the nine-race 2007 season</A>, it is understandable that Lexus would prefer to "branch out" and run the IS F in the companion GT300 series. But does it really make sense to "muzzle" the heavier, 414 hp IS F V8 down to 300 hp via intake restrictors instead of using the IS350 with its lighter, 306-hp V6? On the other hand, the previous paragraph's second sentence strongly confirm Peter Nunn's contention that the mid-engined configuration will be highly controversial.

How truthful is this latest rumo(u)r? It's just one more mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma among many revolving around Lexus' plans to race the IS F. If nothing else, the first quarter of 2008 may well see the resolutions that budding Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christies among us so desperately seek...
 

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I feel they should have the IS-F and SC430 both tagteam in the GT500 class. Or just completely replace the SC430s like how Nissan is ridding of the 350z's. Leave the MR-S and Celica to the GT300.
 

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Didn't that car get disqualified from actually racing in a pro circuit because it had such a huge advantage over similar cars in the same class?
 
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