No sooner does Audi start winning endurance races with their diesel racer and here comes Toyota entering their Lexus GS450h hybrid sedan in the Tokachi 24-hour Race at the Tokachi International Speedway in Hokkaido (in northern Japan) from July 15 to 17. Can't have Audi running away with all of the unconventional race car thunder, now can we? Private teams have competed with hybrids in various races before, but now, Toyota is jumping in with their corporate name and resources so this will be a real test of hybrid capabilities on the track. The car will be campaigned by Lexus Team SARD.
By entering a Lexus GS450h, engineers, with an eye toward obtaining technological feedback for future mass-production vehicles, position the race as part of their ongoing developmental efforts, hoping it will provide insight into how to make hybrid systems smaller, lighter and more efficient. They also plan to collect data on the potential of hybrid systems in motorsports.
Auto manufacturers have quickly recognized the performance possibilities of hybrids with all of that electric motor torque available though environmentalists wring their hands at this "perversion" of the technology. Who was it, Richard Petty maybe, who said the first auto race took place as soon as they built the second car, the competitive urge is always there. It will be interesting to see how soon this spreads to another race series, then how long before we get the gasoline, diesel, ethanol, hybrid LeMans series?