Yaguchi's casual comments were of major interest. Besides being a fan of Formula One, purely for its technological aspects, he acknowledges that the current crop of DTM cars rates very high in his opinion. He said he would like to see a serious Lexus push in that area of competition. While speaking as an individual, the message is clear that Yaguchi-san knows what it takes to make history. Lexus may rule the luxury segment and put up impressive sales numbers, but for a company to be taken seriously in the history books, it will have to compete on the track. And I'm not counting the Lexus-powered proto-turtles of the Grand Am. The IS F is only the first salvo. Although Lexus won't comment, once you venture down this road, there's no turning back.
Track time aboard the IS F at Laguna Seca was plentiful. The paddock area was set up with the usual cones for the itchy-twisty runs, a skidpad and a run-off to test the big Brembo calipers for a two-feet-on-the-pedal panic stop. Then exercise on the full circuit. Although the batch of IS Fs we had were all pre-production, what impressed me most was that-after having been totally thrashed by a variety of drivers of varying skills-at the end of the day, nothing rattled or came loose. No new noises; the only visible wear being on the 18-inch Bibendums and a lot of dust from the evil-looking black Brembo calipers. Oh yeah, 120-plus from turn 11 to the braking point for turn two is more than acceptable-all this while in D.
Yaguchi-san asked what I thought of the car. I told him it was the best mode of transportation to come out of Japan since the Nekobasu from Miyazaki's Totoro. This brought actual laughter and a huge smile. Yaguchi-san retired early that evening; he had a morning flight back to Japan. A pair of IS Fs were making their home debut as safety cars for the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji-where else would you expect a proud father to be?