Video: Lexus LFA with Nurburgring Package laps the Nordschleife in 7m 22s

Article by Christian A., on June 28, 2011

What would a Lexus supercar equipped with the Nurburgring Package have to offer? Apparently, there’s a lot to expect. Lexus had been working on fielding the racing versions of the CR 200h and LFA under the Gazoo Racing banner. But right before the 35th annual Nurburgring 24 Hour Race, Akira Iida tested how a production version of the car will do on the Nordschleife track.

The package had increased the output of the vehicle by 10hp to deliver 562 hp. It also has several weight-saving elements.

Gazoo Racing’s driver was able to post a record of 7:22.85, placing it at 10th place, making it the quickest production vehicle to hit the extreme circuit. It came right behind the 2012 Corvette Z06 and it came ahead of the record set last year by the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

LexusEnthusiasts.com said that this video was put on display at the Nürburgring 24h race beside the LFA Nurburgring Edition. In addition, the lap shown in the video was intended just for exhibition purposes.

The supercar will still be tweaked further so that it could make an official run after a few months. This means that it may still be able to cut its lap time even further. The Nurburgring Package, which was first revealed in March 2010, features a set of enhancements to the LFA so that it will become a more track-oriented car.

By purchasing the package, you also receive 'Ring driving lessons, and a pass on the course that’s good for a year. Several small changes have been made so that it could have a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 3.7 seconds; however, its top speed is maintained at 25 km/h (202 mph). The car’s height was dropped by 10mm and it also got a retuned suspension. Lexus will only make 50 kits, which translates to just 10% of all LFAs getting the Nurburgring Package.

Haruhiko Tanahashi, the LFA development programme chief engineer, says that finding a way to minimise overall car weight was a central objective in the car’s design process, such that they made the radical decision to abandon aluminium in favour of a more advanced Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic material for the construction of the chassis and body.

This decision became more complicated because Tanahashi-san thought it would be better if they took charge of the development of the LFA’s innovative CFRP material instead of out-sourcing this. This was a significant early development mark that proved to be consistent with the overall philosophy of pioneering advanced material and production processes while being cognisant of both the past and future.

Toyota Motor Corporation has a proud history of weaving highly advanced textiles, and Tanahashi-san’s team took advantage of this to develop the CFRP for the LFA’s construction. The automatic weaving machine Toyota originally developed became one of Japanese society’s most significant inventions in its history because it enabled the cost efficient production of advanced fabrics.

Similarly, the decision to use in-house developed CFRP for the LFA posed a technical challenge for the engineers, as they were compelled to use advanced 3D carbon fibre looms instead of Toyota Motor Corporation’s conventional weaving looms. This became beneficial not just in a technological sense but also in an environmental sense because CFRP utilisation reduces the environmental repercussions stemming from the LFA’s production.

One of the most important benefits Tanahashi-san’s team obtained from Toyota’s renowned longtime weaving experience was the broken thread detection technology feature from the company’s original fabric weaving looms. Ultra-accurate laser technology was added to vastly improve the mechanical thread sensors, which then enabled provision of vital insight into the weaving activity and accelerate development time.

CFRP quadruples aluminium’s strength, such that outstanding stiffness is achieved for the centre section while minimising weight. Body weight is almost 100kg less than an aluminium equivalent. CFRP usage also shortens the LFA components’ manufacturing period. Also, importantly, the move towards in-house CFRP development ensures that Lexus’ strict standards are met by the carbon fibre quality.

While there are a few other performance vehicles featuring CFRP construction, the LFA’s chassis utilises cutting-edge aerospace resin technology with unprecedented strength and weight qualities. Extensively, 65% of the LFA’s body-in-white weight comes from CFRP, with the remaining 35% contributed by aluminium alloys. Even the bonnet support strut is composed of CFRP instead of heavier conventional hydraulic bonnet struts.

Structurally, there were three CFRP moulding processes involved, and each was used depending on location, form structure and dynamic load. The Pre-preg hand-laid process is costlier and more laborious. Here, carbon fibre sheets are impregnated with liquid thermosetting resin and moulded, heated and compacted in an oven. This is mainly used for the cabin to ensure appropriate stability and strength.

The bonnet, roof, integrated floor panel and transmission tunnel makes use of Resin Transfer Moulding processed CFRP. The preformed dry carbon fibre is impregnated by liquid resin before heating and curing. The third process is called C-SMC Carbon fibre-reinforced Sheet Moulding Compound process. Here, short fibre materials are pressed in heat in a die. The CFRP produced makes up the C-pillar, its supports and the rear floor.

One final note that highlights Toyota’s worldwide pioneering role is advanced textile weaving, which the Tanahashi-san team relied on to come up with the LFA’s CFRP structure. In particular, the inner side of the bonnet and boot compartment lid remained unpainted to make the raw CFRP visible.

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