Auto Express is going racing! Senior road tester Owen Mildenhall has joined the Lexus team to race a specially-built ISF in this year’s Nurburgring 24 hour race. And to add a little more pressure, senior road Owen will share the car with ex-Indy 500 star Hideshi Matsuda and Gran Turismo game creator Kazunori Yamauchi.
The race begins on Saturday May 15th. And Auto Express’s car will be one of over 150 entrants to take to the legendary German circuit. We'll also be there in force to bring you all the on and off track action via the webiste and our Twitter page - you can follow us on Twitter by clicking here.
In preparation for the race, Owen’s team has entered the car in a number of VLN events. The VLN is an endurance series which runs exclusively on the Nordschleife, making it the perfect place to fine-tune the ISF.
What’s more, it helps the drivers to get to grips with the traffic, the infamously changeable weather and the high speeds – at present, the Lexus will hit 174mph at the fastest point on the track.
The ISF has been built by Lexus’ technicians to the SP8 class rules, which means that it has a standard 417bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine and eight-speed auto gearbox.
However, the car does have a number of modifications to make it more competitive on the track – it has stiffer suspension, a roll cage and sticky Yokohama tyres, while the aerodynamics are assisted by a front splitter, flat underfloor and new rear wing.
The first VLN race was a mixed affair – the car had an issue with a wheel speed sensor that was confusing the ECU, and the flat underbody caused the rear differential to overheat.
But the event proved a great learning experience, and there are two more VLN races to go before the 24-hour event. For the car’s next outing, new brake pads will be tried to combat overheating, and new suspension settings will be tested to help improve traction and stability.