Saturday, June 25, 2011

Toyota Europe Blog: Exclusive interview with Akira Iida

Re-blog from my post on Toyota Europe's Corporate Blog coverage of the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race.

Last night, after the final round of Qualifying for the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race, GAZOO Racing Team Manager and Driver of LFA #88, Akira Iida sat down with us to share his views on the team and how the race weekend has progressed so far. During the interview, he also gave us a rare insight on the team’s strategy and the outlook for the race starting this afternoon.

You are back at the Nüburgring again this year with the production version of the LFA. How has the car evolved since you were here for last year’s 24-hour race?
The base of the car has not changed much. One thing I can say with confidence is that there were some weak points last year, so we did our best to solve those problems and we made major improvements for this year.

You are here both as Team Manager and Driver. How do you balance these two very important roles in the team? Can you give us some insight into your race weekend?

That’s a tough question! I’m proud to be in the Team Manager and Driver role. Everyday second, I learn something new. It’s definitely not easy to manage all our team members during the race, however, the main purpose of our project is to develop our cars and also to nurture our people. In the end, numbers count – meaning what time or classification we can achieve. The numbers will show our hard work. When we started our project last year, our new, young members did not yet have experience in a race environment. Now, I can clearly see that they are developing their skills which makes me proud of my job!

The weather has been quite unpredictable today. If it remains changing, or if it starts to rain, how will the conditions affect the team’s strategy?
Nobody knows what kind of weather we can expect, but most probably dry/rain. However, I have already made our basic strategies, so I think we are ready for any situation. We have already trained our people so that they can be ready for anything. It will be the same situation for all 200+ entrants. It’s an equal condition for everyone.

The team achieved Top 30 during the Qualifying which means both LFAs will feature blue LED flashing lights for the race. How important is it for the team and how will you benefit from it?
I knew it was not easy, but I was confident we would be able to achieve Top 30 positions in Qualifying. The main objective for our project at GAZOO Racing is to train and educate our people, but we have also been training our race strategy. I want to say that continuity is very important for us. Having said that, we have only been here for five years. The other top teams have been here 20, 30 years. They have history, they have experience. So I have to say, if our cars were not LFAs, we will not be able to get this good result. So in a way, we are lucky to be fighting with LFAs. Continuing our activities at the Nüburgring 24 Hour Race will be our strength year by year.

We will continue to bring you the latest progress of the GAZOO Racing Team here and on our Twitter feeds @toyota_europe and @Lexus_EU.

Follow the Toyota Europe Corporate Blog for live updates and pictures!

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