A hot lap around one of the great motor racing circuits in the world with former World F1 Champion Alan Jones behind the wheel illustrated what can be done with a fast car in the very best hands. Sitting very relaxed behind the wheel (he was anyway), the Lexus assumed a very different character. Drifting around the blind corners through the Cutting, blasting across the top of the mountain, then diving down through the Esses into the Dipper, the Lexus responded instantly. Flat out down Conrod, Jones nudged the Lexus past 260kmh as he turned in before mashing the giant Brembo brakes for the left hander at the Chase. I couldn’t help thinking, “Is this really a 68 year old!”
During the driver’s briefing, he had warned us about the traps around Bathurst. “There’s one way to safely negotiate this track,” he said. “Slow in, fast out. Simple as that.”
After sitting in the passenger’s seat as he rocketed into corners with the car sliding towards concrete walls, I realised that advice was solely for us amateurs.
Sport plus mode was selected for the drive, along with Track mode for the Active Torque Vectoring, so the traction control was switched off – almost. Turns out it never fully disengages, and will intervene if it detects a slide that it reckons is heading for a spin. Jones got very annoyed with it as he drifted across the mountain somewhere around 170kmh; “it keeps cutting out on me,” he said. The system was adjusting torque to slow him down and was obviously calibrated to nursemaid drivers like me, not speed masters of his calibre.
When Jones agreed to be a Lexus Ambassador, he might not have anticipated a car with the RC F’s credentials on the market any time soon. But several Lexus performance models have built up to this, including the IS200 that four-time Australian Rally Champion Neil Bates, also a Lexus Ambassador, took to three consecutive class wins in Targa Tasmania.
Neither Jones nor Bates sign their hard-won reputations to lost causes. Lexus has clearly, in their view, got the performance package right with the RC F.