Duncan Dayton pushing his priceless Lotus 79 to the limit at the 2015 Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca
Duncan Dayton pushing his priceless Lotus 79 to the limit at the 2015 Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca
Duncan Dayton pushing his priceless Lotus 79 to the limit at the 2015 Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca
Lotus fans around the world celebrated as Kimi Räikkönen takes the chequered flag, racing to victory during the first round of the FIA 2013 World Championship Formula One® race in Melbourne, Australia.
A force to be reckoned with, Kimi Räikkönen proved Lotus was the team to beat during a race marked by the threat of rain, and where tyre strategy was critical in the racing game plan. With the other front runners taking 3 pit stops, Kimi was able to preserve tyre condition, docking only twice over the 58 lap Albert Park course. From the off, the E21 showed its prowess, with a race pace that was nothing less than impressive, the fastest lap of the race 1:29.274. What marks the 20th win in his career, and the 81st for the Lotus name in F1® the former World Champion is now leading the 2013 F1® World Championship race.
Kimi Räikkönen: “Our plan was to do two stops and though its difficult in the first races to know when to stop and not go too early, we got it exactly right. The car has been very good all weekend, we were a bit disappointed qualifying 7th but with the conditions it wasn’t so easy. I knew if I went through the first laps in a good position we should give ourselves a good chance for fighting for the podium. It turned out to be not so difficult.”
Eric Bouillier: “The best start you can ever dream of. I am very proud of our team today.”
Team mate Romain Grosjean finished 10th, securing an important point for the team. All eyes are firmly on next weekends assault where the second round of the competition takes place at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
It didn’t do very well.
This is the story of our path. You can follow it if you like. Probably best if you don’t though.
Step 1. Buy a Lotus Elite.
Possibly the hardest part of the operation, as there are likely less than 100 of these fantastic machines in working order in the US. We found our car by advertising a second hand fridge on Craigslist, then asking the guys who showed up they have a Lotus Elite they’d like to swap for the fridge. We asked him to throw in a couple of hundred bucks.
Step 2. Bring the Elite home.
We found out that Colin, being his usual efficient self, used the drive shafts as the upper suspension elements. With the diff in the standard place for the Elite (the trunk), towing quickly resulted in two flat tires as they impinged on the incredibly sharp shock tower brackets.
Step 3. Look for the rear brakes.
We found them in the trunk. With the diff. On the diff actually. And they’re drums.
Step 4. Remove the Interior.
Everyone knows that to be competitive in a race you should make your car as light as possible by removing the creature comforts such as passenger seats and the air conditioning. The Elite was originally a luxury 2+2 as it rolled off the production line all those years ago, but Colin was alive at the time, and simplify and add lightness was still the rule in Hethel. Removing all the interior saved us about 10 pounds, but vastly reduced the amount of tan corduroy we see on a daily basis.
Step 5. Build a cage.
In fact, we didn’t build a cage. It’s far too difficult for a Joe Shmoe like you and me. We took it to an expert cage builder who scratched his head at the challenge of finding enough metal in the car to weld to. In the end he built a complete under floor chassis to hold the seat to the cage. In the event of a really big hit the fiberglass body may part company with the cage, but at least we’ll still be in the cage.
Step 6. Install the diff.
We set aside about 3 days for this task, not really because the diff is hard to install, but that with the drums on the diff you have to connect brake lines to the diff when the diff is in place. We could have saved about 2.5 of those days if had cut large holes in the fiberglass by the transmission tunnel to access the brake lines from the back seat. We did this after spending the 3 days installing the diff.
Step 7. Get the Chevy V8 running.
This is ridiculously easy provided you don’t have the distributor set 180 degrees out. You’ll know if you’ve done this because 8 foot flames out of the carburetor are not normal. Neither is blowing the breather out of the valve cover into your overhead florescent lights.
Step 8. Go to the practice day on the Friday before the race.
A novice would think that the practice day is to tune up the performance of the car on track. It turns out that normal procedure is to hammer on the radiator fan shroud to try and reduce interference. Take the radiator out to have to hole you just made in it repaired. Bleed the brakes 9 times. Go out on track for ¼ of a lap and get towed in with an apparent fuel problem. Wonder what’s causing the blue smoke to come out of the exhaust but not have time to investigate it. Fail tech by putting the battery in the trunk, so that with a big rear end hit we have a heavy object to puncture the gas tank and a spark source to ignite it. Move the battery to the rear seat, and collapse in a heap from a 14 hour day working on the car.
Step 9. Line up for the start on Saturday.
Again a novice would think that this is to take part in the race. Instead this is so that we could get towed off after another ¼ of a lap with the fuel problem that we had the day before but didn’t solve. We installed an electric pump instead of the mechanical one and wondered why we still had a fuel problem. We replaced the inline fuel filter and wondered why we still had a fuel problem. We examined the interior of the carburetor and wondered why we still had a fuel problem. We found a kink in the fuel line right under the gas tank and knew why we had a fuel problem.
At last we got to run two laps of the track before getting black flagged for leaving blue smoke swath so bad we understood why James Bond liked Lotuses. Back to the pits we started taking the engine apart and wondered if we did anything bad to the internals when we spat flames out of the carburetor. Nah. That couldn’t be it.
Backfires (frontfires?) could have blown the intake gasket, letting oil into some of the cylinders. Good job it’s easy to take the intake manifold off a V8 and replace it. While we’re in the pits we drained the ½ gallon of gasoline in the trunk and tried and figure out where it’s coming from. We connected tubes to the breathers that vented into the trunk. Finally! The car was fixed and we could get back out on track. Shame that racing for the day stopped 6 hours ago.
Step 10. Go racing!
Really! The car was ready and fun to drive! For two laps. Then we needed to change out the rear tires for smaller ones to stop them impinging on the subframe (see Step 2) we went back out but the car just got slower and slower…
The throttle cable was stretching due to a bad pull angle from the accelerator pedal. Another stop and an adjustment on the throttle made the car faster again, but it was a temporary fix as the cable started to fray in the sheath, making it stick.
In the end the Chotus completed 60 laps over 2 days but it did come back from Buttonwillow in better condition than how it went. We can’t wait for Infineon
By Steve Warwick
Photos by B-Team Racing and Vanhap Photography
LOTUS INKS ITS DRAGON TATTOO
Lotus has chosen the Autosport International Show to announce its full factory partnership with the Dragon Racing IndyCar team. Lotus Dragon Racing will be an official Lotus team, racing in the black and gold colours that are shared by the marque’s Formula One programme. Owned by Jay Penske – Chairman and CEO of the Penske Media Corporation, and son of US racing legend Roger Penske – Dragon Racing debuted in 2007, picking up fifth at the Indy 500 straight out of the box at the hands of Ryan Briscoe. In 2009, its first full season, Dragon driver Raphael Matos took the Rookie of the Year honours. In 2012, the Lotus Dragon Racing line up is a particularly strong one: Katherine Legge, the first female driver to win a major open-wheel race in North America, and four-time Champ Car Series champion and former F1 racer Sebastien Bourdais.
Claudio Berro, Group Lotus Director of Motorsport: Claudio Berro: “We are very pleased to be able to announce this new and exciting partnership with Dragon Racing today, a team which has demonstrated its potential and which we believe will achieve great success thanks to the Lotus IndyCar engine and the security of a major backer. Last year was Lotus’ first foray into this prestigious open-wheel series since Jim Clark won the Indy 500 back in 1965. We have a tremendous legacy in this sport, and are determined to become winners again. The American market is one of the most important to Lotus in terms of road car sales, hence our aggressive marketing strategies through US auto racing. We believe Lotus Dragon Racing and our other partner teams will give us the best opportunity to achieve our ambitious goals.”
INDIANA CLONES AND THE FAST CRUSADE
In 2012 no less than four teams with an anticipated minimum eights cars will be packing Lotus power in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The company’s all-new twin-turbo V6 has its first shakedown today at the Moroso circuit in Jupiter, Florida, with Lotus HVM driver Simona de Silvestro working the loud pedal. The engine program, which was announced in November 2010, has come together quickly without teething problems, and fire-ups away from the track have ticked all the boxes. Lotus Dragon Racing, Lotus HVM Racing, Lotus Bryan Herta Autosport, and Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing are all confirmed as engine partners. The Autosport International Show marks the first public appearance of this ambitious powerplant.
Claudio Berro, Group Lotus Director of Motorsport: “The engine has performed extremely well so far, and we and our partners are very pleased with the results. We had our first fire-up in a Dallara chassis in Palma, Italy on 21-23 December, then the engine was sent to America, and today we’re having our first on-track shakedown, at Moroso, which is very exciting. On January 1st we opened a Lotus facility in Indianapolis which will be our US engineering and logistics hub, so it’s all go. We’ve still got a lot of work to do before the start of the season, but I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’re making.”
LOTUS MOTORSPORT BECOMES LOTUS RACING
In order to reflect the broad range of Lotus’ competition activities, Lotus Racing becomes the new umbrella name for Group Lotus’ racing division. All of our official works teams will now race in the evocative black and gold livery. These include the Lotus F1 Team, GP2 and GP3 team Lotus GP (formerly ART) and Lotus Dragon Racing. Partner teams, such as the Lotus-engined IndyCar teams Lotus Herta Autosport, Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will also run in black and gold with Lotus HVM Racing running in predominantly green, yellow and white. Customer teams have the option of running other classic Lotus liveries, such as Lotus Sport UK’s ‘Gold Leaf’ red, white and gold, which was raced to victory in the British GT Championship last year.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
As mentioned earlier this week, Lotus has formed one of the most exclusive members clubs in the world – Lotus Club GT. It’s a gentlemen’s – or ladies – club with a difference. No leather Chesterfields, wood-panelled walls or cigar smoke – here, you’ll find bucket seats, carbon-panelling and the smell of burning rubber. It is the ultimate club for sports car enthusiasts. The club’s current entry requirements are met with the purchase of one of Lotus’ premium race-bred models – the Evora GT4 and Evora Enduro with club specification. Member benefits include one-to-one driver tuition catering for drivers of all abilities from our professional works drivers and the Lotus F1 Team. Members also receive exclusive VIP access to Lotus events, like going behind the scenes at the Lotus F1 Team’s high security HQ and in the pits at glamorous grands prix.
Matthew de Morgan, businessman and Lotus Club GT member: “You will enjoy it, and I think what you get out of it is more than what you give. We aren’t out there to be pseudo Michael Schumachers, we’re there to have fun competing, to enjoy ourselves in an environment which is safe, educational and challenging. I think this is what the GT club is all about. I didn’t come here with a previous history of driving cars round a track and having done it I’m delighted. Frankly it’s probably the best thing I’ve done for myself in the last ten years.”
Claudio Berro, Group Lotus Director of Motorsport: “Through all our activity on and off the track, we want to make the driver experience as incredible and unique as possible so creating the Lotus Club GT was a natural step for us. Our clients have come to expect more than just to be handed the car keys, they want to be part of the team and to really understand how to get the very most from their investment. Everything is tailored to match the individual expectations of our clients allowing them to truly realise their potential behind the wheel. So far the feedback we have had from members is fantastic – they really become part of the Lotus family”
Check out the Lotus Club GT in action here: www.4lot.us/motorsportvideos
F1 TEAM PIMPS OUR ULTIMATE RIDE
Lotus’ Formula One customer experience, the Type 125, has become even more F1, thanks to its final phase of development work by the Lotus F1 Team. Newly-announced driver Romain Grosjean put the car through its paces in Portugal recently as engineers honed the car’s set-up to replicate those of a current generation Formula One beast, while keeping it safe, easy to drive and reliable for Lotus’ private customers. A normal F1 car requires a huge crew just to start it up, yet the single-seat Type 125 can be fired up at the touch of a button. It’s 640bhp 3.5 litre Cosworth V8 engine is linked to a six-speed gearbox with paddle shift. It weights just 560kg resulting in a phenomenal power-to-weight of nearly 1000bhp per tonne. The Type 125 mule sits in a race bay at the team’s Enstone factory, where the 2012 F1 car is being prepared. It has now reached the end of its comprehensive development programme.
Romain Grosjean: “The idea was to bring the car as close as possible to F1 level. We needed a car that was close to the lap time of a Formula One car, but that was also easy to drive. Development is something that I love to do, and the Type 125 has been a really interesting project for me. Some things were quite funny, like the auto clutch the car has for when you leave the garage and the option of auto up-shift, which seemed odd the first time I used it – a bit like a computer game – but it works well. We achieved a strong level of performance and sensation, but it is not too hard or too on-the-limit to drive which is important, because this car is designed for private customers. We did a lot of laps during our three-day test in Portimao and we had no reliability issues at all. Everything worked perfectly.”
Arnaud Boulanger, Head of External Projects, Lotus F1 Team: “Lotus asked us to take on the Type 125 in September 2011 through to its final development. The programme was not to re-engineer the car completely, but to hone the set-up and the car’s performance envelope as close as possible to Formula One, and match the build quality to 2012 F1 standards, while also making it safe, reliable and easy to drive. We needed a car that was exhilarating to drive, that was reasonably forgiving, that was relatively easy to operate but that still offers extreme performance – very close to F1. Our programme had the added benefit of development from a current F1 driver, Romain Grosjean when he ran the car at Portimao in mid-November and gave us the valuable feedback we needed.
“Working closely with Group Lotus, we have managed to fulfill all our engineering objectives in a very short space of time. The performance is just a small step back from Formula One, so as to allow the practical aspects I mentioned, but still provide the F1 experience customers crave. It’s going to be very physical still, and not many drivers will be able to cope with more than a few flat-out laps. Drivers will be thrilled with the finished product.”
BACK TO BASICS
You’re never too old to drive a Lotus. You’re never too young either. Arguably the most fun, raw and inspirational racing machine on our stand in Birmingham is the new Lotus Racing Kart, built in Italy to the highest standards by Wildkarts. The official Lotus Racing Karts team will be evaluating drivers at the end of the month in Lonato, and will compete in the CIK-FIA KF1 Karting World Championship. Championship events will take place at Varennes sur Allier in France (29 April), Suzuka in Japan (20 May), Brandon in UK (22 July), Sarno in Italy (9 September) and Macau-Coloane (21 October).
Lotus Racing Karts has also set its sights on the Asia-Pacific zone and, represented by a Japanese partner, will form a team in the exciting All-Japan Championship.
Another important task for Lotus Racing Karts will be CIK-FIA «U18» Karting World Championship. This new series is aimed at promoting drivers between 15 and 18-years-old through an FIA World Championship in which costs are rigorously limited, in particular thanks to the free allocation of engines and tyres to all participants. Free? That’s not a word you hear often in this business, is it?
TEAM BULLRUN’S NEW BABY
Team Bullrun will be running a Lotus Evora GT4 in the 2012 Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship. The team has previously won the series’ production car titles, while the Evora placed a very credible third in the Britcar 24 Hours last October, but this will be the first full season’s racing for Lotus’ endurance model. Former Britcar Production Champions Richard Adams and David Green will be joined by 2011 BTCC driver Martin Byford. Formula Ford veterans Fluid Motorsport are joining forces with Bullrun to manage the team.
Team Bullrun refers to the US-based luxury rally in which fun-loving and cash-rich enthusiasts take the public roads by storm. Expect some eye-catching Lotus models as well as Burt Reynolds look-a-likes on the Bullrun this year, which kicks off in Hollywood on June 23 and promises seven days of high-octane hedonism. A few thousand miles from Tinsletown – and with no pressure to obey the rules of the road – the first round of the 2012 Britcar series will be held at Silverstone on March 24.
Claudio Berro, Group Lotus Director of Motorsport: “We are delighted that Bullrun share our view that the Evora could be a serious championship contender this year. It is clearly good news to see a British team, with a British car competing for a British title. The overall package Bullrun has managed to put together looks very strong and we look forward to closely following their progress throughout the season.”
Lindsay Allen, Fluid Motorsport co-founder: “We have been considering a move in GT racing for some time – the combination of Bullrun’s track record in Britcar, its trio of experienced drivers and our own race preparation and championship expertise should make for a very strong team. The new Lotus Evora package Bullrun have secured looks to be very competitive. We are very much looking forward to running this alongside our usual Formula Ford operations.”
UP FOR THE CUP
The Lotus Cup Series, which sees enthusiasts race wheel-to-wheel across the globe, is set for even more action this year. In addition to the Elises, Exiges and 2-Elevens that already make up the grids, we will be welcoming Evora V6 entrants worldwide, including the GTS and GTN variants. Lotus-On-Track, which runs the Cup, has its own stand at the Autosport Show 2520 with the GTS on display. Here, you can also view the GTS/N conversion kit, which will turn your production-spec Evora into an out-and-out racer. Bolt it on, and stand well back.
The Lotus Cup has proved massively popular, with 350 participants racing worldwide on some of the most challenging and legendary race tracks and this year there is the added incentive of a prize for the most successful Evora running in the 2012 Cup. Championships are held across the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe, Italy, the USA and Japan, and we’re hoping to add some more territories in 2012.
Echoing our famous Formula One livery, the Lotus Cup gets a lick of paint this year and a new logo in keeping with the refreshed Lotus Racing brand strategy.
Lotus is pleased to announce a couple of new corporate partners to our racing stable.
OCS is an international facilities management company, which provides many businesses with cleaning, catering, security, waste and maintenance services – and, by partnering with Lotus Racing, it hopes to wipe the floor with the competition.
OAMPS is one of the UK’s leading independent insurance brokers, with a broad range of general and specialist insurance solutions – such as motor racing – as well as associated environmental, health and safety services. Partnering one of the most successful marques in motorsport they, too, are in safe hands.
Both brands will be carried on our GT championship Evoras. In addition, on the stand at the NEC, we have a Petronas-plastered Evora GT4. Our collaboration with the Malaysian petrochemical giant is going from strength-to-strength and it’s great to have their growing support.
A PETROLHEAD’S SMORGASBORD
Lotus’ stand at Autosport International is showing off some of our most exciting track-born and race-bred models. In addition to the Petronas-sponsored Evora GT4, in which Lotus Sport UK scored two wins during its maiden season of British GT, we’re displaying a Lotus Renault GP F1 car; the black-and-gold R31 took podiums in the Australian and Malaysian grands prix last year. Then there’s the Evora GT Enduro, our new 440bhp evolution of the GT4, which will be used in the Lotus Club GT. Finally, the NEC boasts the sensational Evora GTE – the ultimate road-going Lotus and by far the most powerful too. With its aggressive face and eye watering stats, it stole the show at last summer’s Pebble Beach Concours, so we were compelled to put it into production.
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Juan Manuel Fangio by watching this amazing 6-lap race between him and Sir Jack Brabham from 1978 Australian Grand Prix. Fangio is 66 years old and is racing his title winning W196 Mercedes Benz against Brabham in his title winning Repco Brabham. The two of them have an incredible 8 world championships between them.
For more info on the Evora Cup/GT4 check out out our exclusive interview with Lotus test driver Johnny Mowlem and head on over to our coverage of theEvora Cup/GT4 premiere event.
The main feature race of the 2010 Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrated 60 years of Formula 1 and had a grid featuring an incredible 24 F1 cars including 3 Lotus (Types 77, 79 and 81) and 6 championship winning cars (Lotus 79, Williams FW07, 2 Williams FW08, Tyrrell 006, Ferrari 312 T2). The following are some quick video snippets showing the action as it went down.
The most iconic turn at Laguna Seca is the Corkscrew and we got this quick clip of the cars navigating it during the Sunday morning practice session. You can also see another video from a different angle here.
This clip shows the cars lining up for the grid and labels them for the folks who don’t remember all their historic F1 liveries 🙂
Unlike Europe, Historic Grand Prix racing in the US generally uses a rolling start. The Williams FW 07B and FW 08C make up the front row.
A clip showing Turn 11 passing from lap 2. We have the two Williams FW 08C cars trying up and under moves while the Lotus 79 outbrakes the Penske PC4
The final turn of the race featured a finish line drag race between the Lotus 77 (driven by GGLC member Chris Locke) and the McLaren M30.
The full results and entry list are now posted on the official website.
While the Lotus Exos was deservedly getting all the press after the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion, Lotus also held the North American Premiere of the Evora GT4 Cup car at the same time.
Developed from the highly acclaimed Lotus Evora sports car, the Lotus Evora Cup GT4 race car has been engineered to give drivers a competitive racing package straight “out of the box”. The car has been developed in conjunction with a number of prestigious technical partners and features a world class chassis, steering and brakes delivering exceptional ride and handling.
Photo © Jack Fried
The Cosworth tuned engine is bored out to a 4 litre capacity and produces 360 bhp (Vs 3.5L and 280 bhp in the road car). Further upgrades include a six speed sequential paddle shift racing gearbox, full FIA specification roll cage, FIA-compliant 96 litre fuel system, FIA fire extinguisher system and kill switch. Unladen weight has also been reduced by over 200kg to just 1190kg.
Photo © Andy Kern
While the Evora Cup looks quite similar to the road car, there are a number exterior changes to improve downforce such as the beautifully integrated carbon fiber rear wing and diffuser package above. Other downforce enhancements include the front splitter and wheel vents on all four corners. The body panels are also easily removable for easy access to various internals.
Photo © Jack Fried
Since the premiere event was being held a Laguna Seca, Lotus had test driver Johnny Mowlem on hand to give prospective buyers some “test rides”. The GGLC was able to speak to Johnny in this exclusive interview to hear his thoughts on the development of the Evora Cup GT4 and how it compares to the street car:
I first thing I noticed going down the pit-out lane was the seamlessness of the paddle-shift sequential box… and next I thought, gee… Johnny’s going to go around the pit out corner at T2 pretty quick, and he did: the car definitely has some serious grip. The next two corners, T3 & T4 are relatively flat; no camber… I usually ease into the brakes so I don’t upset the car too much, then transition into the turn. Johnny waited much later to brake and broke much harder, but it didn’t seem to faze the Evora’s chassis at all, the car just has great grip and poise during transitions. The rest of the ride was more of the same, as the tires warmed up and Johnny broke later and harder than I would have expected; but always completely smoothly. The shifts were so smooth I barely noticed them. The car has good acceleration too… better than my 2-Eleven everywhere with the possible exception of the steep rise from T6 to the corkscrew.
As I’d said, it’s always tough to compare one car from the passenger’s seat with another from the driver’s seat… but the overall impression is that the Evora Cup is very much a Lotus… fantastic braking, tenacious cornering, great chassis dynamics… and maybe somewhat of a welcome surprise… very torquey.
All in all the Evora Cup GT4 appears to be another fantastic race car from Lotus and should do well both as a track day car and as a competition GT4 racer. For more information about the car please visit www.lotusevoracup.com.
For more pictures from the premiere event please use the slideshow below or head directly to our Flickr Set. We request blogs and news outlets that use our content, photos and video to please credit Rahul Nair and the Golden Gate Lotus Club as well as link back to this post.
Tyler McQuarrie on-board video from friday practice at Mosport. The GGLC sponsored racer eventually went almost 2 seconds faster than this lap to capture pole for the race on Sunday where he finished 2nd in the GTS class of the SCCA World Challenge.