Kazunori Yamauchi Competes in Nurburgring 24 Hour Race, Team Finishes 4th in Class
Gran Turismo series producer Kazunori Yamauchi competed in the 38th running of the Nurburgring 24 Hour race, the largest touring car race event in the world, held this year on May 15 and 16. Yamauchi was part of the World Car Award team in their SP8 class Lexus IS F outfitted with a 5-liter V8 engine.
The other members of the World Car Award team were Peter Lyon, a well-known automotive journalist who contributes to 12 publications around the world, Hideshi Matsuda, a professional race driver who has raced in the Indy 500 (four times), Spa 24H, Le Mans, and Super GT racing series, and finally Owen Mildenhall, a veteran pro race driver who has competed in the Silverstone 24h race three times among others. Yamauchi, Lyon, and Matsuda first competed together as a team last August in the VLN 4-hour endurance race at Nurburgring last year, finishing first in their class.
In Germany, the month of May started off looking like the middle of winter. Preliminaries held on the Thursday and Friday leading up to the weekend's big event were affected by the weather, and teams had to hurry to be ready to hit the track. The area was covered in a thick fog the morning of the 15th as the main event was supposed to start, foreboding a grueling 24 hours of racing to come. But as the day went on, the clouds parted and the skies were sunny for the first time in a week, making for the perfect conditions to kick off the race.
The team met with fuel troubles during opening stages of the race, brake troubles later on, and damage to body panels in the closing stages of the race, but were able to stay on the track with minimal downtime and make it through the full 24-hour race thanks to their experienced team of mechanics taking care of the pit work. The World Car Ward team were able to put their experience from last year's VLN race series to good use, and the 4-man team continued to improve their lap times, setting new fastest lap times up to 2 hours from the finish of the race. The fastest lap of the team was put up by Hideshi Matsuda at 9 minutes 46.343 seconds, followed by Kazunori Yamauchi with 9 minutes 48.943 seconds.
The World Car Award team finished 59th overall and 4th in their respective SP8 class, a major achievement for this team that had never participated in the race before.
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