My first time at 24 Hours of Nurburgring in 2009 was also the first time to meet LFA. I saw a small man with snow-white hair near one of the LFA’s at the grid. That was Hiromu Naruse - the chief test pilot and test engineer of Toyota, who had been working for the company since 1963 and led the creation and production of Toyota 7 (a kind of Japanese Can-Am) and Toyota 2000GT (perhaps the most beautiful car of the company).
He was 26 years old when he took part in his very first 24-hour marathon at the Nürburgring in 1970. That time, 39 years ago, the victory in the race went to another legendary pilot - Hans-Joachim Stuck. They both made a comeback to the race of 2009. Over all these long years Hiromu Naruse dashed down so many kilometers of Nordschleife, that even the greatest champions and team owners bowed for him and called him "Nür-master."
So LFA. Unexpectantly I received a press invitation to take part in a grand scale event of Lexus Live in Sochi Autodrom featuring Lexus LF-A. From afar I heard that splendid sound of atmospheric V10. It was the sound of the engine, which the chief vehicle designer Haruhiko Tanahashi called "the roaring of an angel."
I’m not sure whether angels know how to roar, but I was ready to believe it: it was the sound which you can feel with your guts. Is it real angel? If so, he must have arrived from the Inferno! When I entered the pit lane, LFA was resting near the boxes, proliferating that magical aroma of a hot racing car, which for me is like aphrodisiac. I think I would rather have it definitely patented, produced and bottled as a perfume – it will be a success for certain people.
There is a small metal plate with the model number at the rear inner panel right between the two seats. Only 500 Lexus LFA cars were produced from 2010 to 2012. All of them were made on pre-order basis, and most of them found their ways to private collections or race teams. Before the initial car was assembled the company fine-tuned the final design with prototypes, 14 of which were issued. Only next 3 pieces were built according to the final recipe specs and numbered from P-015 and on. Guess what was the number engraved on the plate of “Sochi”’s car? Exactly! It was P-015!
... Konstantin Tereschenko is a Russian race driver, who races in the GP3 Series. He was invited to Sochi as the ring-taxi driver for journalists and visitors. So he took me for a ride.
There is a Sochi Arc after the second turn which is to run with the full throttle and often becomes the reason for the engine failures due to ebb oil, but the LFA engine is built with the principle of dry sump and that protects it from the failure. There is a couple of traditional turns, some tricky, with self-centering, some with complex chords, and here I have interest in watching the behavior of the vehicle and how Konstantin pilots it.
At some point I almost believed that I sit in a racing car, which were smoothly swallowing the race circuit. Of course, there was some difference. As for me, I would put lighter wheel webs and better tires, since there were some slips from the track, which were caused by the quality of the tires. Anyway, it was not a race car, with its leather lined interior and all the devices like music and air condition, that comprise quite a part of the 1500 kg weight. A cage would give the car an additional rigidity of the body and more stability at turns. And I wish I could add to the car a piece of spontaneity, since the Japanese are obsessed with it. LFA is a true creature of Japan and resembles a Japanese poem: with highly adjusted degree of the order bearing a chaos of an open syllable.
... Now, after a few days, that my emotions from the meeting with the Lexus LFA have subsided, I had to decide should I remove it from the virtual shelf of my mind's attic. But since I just had a ride at the passenger seat I decided to keep it there for I still cherish hope of a chance to race that beautiful car someday.