13007For those of us that are still hurting from the <A HREF="http://my.is/forums/f46/team-lexus-2006-alms-season-goes-up-smoke-305417/">demise of Team Lexus' efforts to campaign the 2nd-generation Lexus IS in the American Le Mans Series' GT2-S class</A>, word that the new IS will see action on the world's racetracks certainly comes as a welcome piece of good news. Brace yourself and sit down, however, for the sheer unexpectedness of how it will happen. Here's the story, as reported <A HREF="http://www.fiawtcc.com/fiawtcc/sport_sto1270683.shtml">on the official FIA WTTC website:</A>
LGT TO RACE DIESEL-POWERED LEXUS
LGT Engineering today confirmed their plans to enter the FIA World Touring Car Championship. The Liverpool-based team will enter two Lexus IS220d cars to compete in the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy.
LGT's Commercial Director Tim Blake commented: “Our plan is to run the cars towards the end of this season, prior to embarking on a full assault on the championship in 2008.
We are currently undertaking the official Lexus homologation with the FIA, with many of the car's components, including the proven transmission, having been designed by our innovative in-house team.”
Blake added: “The WTCC is a natural fit for the company to showcase its work. Needless to say, we're eager to get out there and start racing!”
LGT Engineering was founded in February 2007 by Tim Blake and Technical Director George Ryton.
Ryton, whose previous experience includes designs for the Ferrari, Minardi and Tyrell F1 teams, heads up the design department, working on both the motorsport and Lexus road car programmes.
For the uninitiated, here's some background: the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is, in a general manner of speaking, Europe's version of NASCAR. Fortunately, this does not entail much of NASCAR's idiotic lunacy like racing in circles using RWD chassis with carbureted V8 engines in spec bodies that futilely try to masquerade as modern FWD family sedans. There is some of NASCAR's emphasis on yestertech, however, in the fact that certain technologies featured in production cars, such as variable valve timing, variable intake geometry, ABS brakes and traction control are not allowed.
The most prominent factory teams in this series are BMW, which uses the 320si, Chevrolet Europe, which competes with the Lacetti (a rebadged Daewoo Lacetti/Chevrolet Optra/Suzuki Forenza), SEAT (León), Alfa Romeo (156) and a lone Volvo S60 Flexifuel. The Yokohama Independents’ Trophy mentioned in the original article is awarded to privateer, non-factory efforts. Among these, besides examples of the aforementioned cars, are two Honda Accord Euro Rs and a lone Toyota Corolla T-Sport.
The original article mentions plans to run the Lexus diesels towards the end of this season, prior to embarking on a full assault on the championship in 2008. As of this writing, the four remaining races for 2007 take place in Germany's Oschersleben circuit on Sunday 26 August; England's Brands Hatch track on Sunday 9 September; Italy's storied Monza on Sunday 7 October; and the season finale at the series' only non-European venue, in China's former Portuguese enclave of Macau, on Sunday 18 November. It is unclear precisely which of these races will mark the Lexus IS diesel's debut.
Those of you that have visions of Lexus IS sedans modded into Audi R10 or Peugeot 908-rivalling diesel torque monsters will be sorely disappointed by one of the most basic rules of the FIA WTTC Series: engines must be no larger than 2000cc. Thus, the Lexus IS220d racer will actually be an IS200d, hardly a recipe for outright brute power. This reduction of engine size bears eerie similarities to the situation when first Tim Pappas, and later Andrew Wojteczko decided to campaign the 1st-generation Lexus IS300 in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series: rules allowing engines no larger than 2800cc displacement.
And speaking of Andrew Wojteczko, <A HREF="http://my.is/forums/f47/my-interview-andrew-wojteczko-auto-analyser-racing-296978/">the interview we conducted starting in June 2006</A> reminds us that SPEED World Challenge only allow for the 1st-generation Lexus IS300 to race in that series until 3 years after manufacturing of the platform stops. That would mean that next year (2008) would be the last that it would be eligible. Thus, 2009 should see the 2nd-generation Lexus IS, in gasoline-powered 250 guise, tearing up the racetracks of North America as well.
Our most heartfelt thanks to my.IS member Mrcs007, for alerting us of this exciting piece of news via private message.