The Tokachi 24-hour Race will run at the Tokachi International Speedway in Hokkaido (in northern Japan) from July 15 to 17. 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.
This marks the first time an automobile manufacturer has played a leading role in entering a hybrid vehicle in a competition that has semi-international status, such as the Tokachi 24-hour Race. Until now, in Japan, only private teams with self-owned hybrid vehicles have competed in independent events at various racing circuits.
The car, the Denso Lexus GS450h, is entering in the “Production-1” Class (hybrids and other environmentally considerate vehicles). The entry vehicle is also recognized as a 2006 Super Taikyu Series ST-1 Class (3,501cc or higher) vehicle exceptionally approved by the Super Taikyu Organization (STO).
Main modifications on the car include:
- Front and rear suspensions
- Tires and wheels
- Safety roll cage
- Safety fuel tank
- Differential (mechanical LSD)
- Brake system
- Aerodynamic parts, reduced vehicle weight, etc