Lotus Management on the Future of Lotus (GGLC Exclusive Interviews)

GGLC attended the North America launch of the new Lotus range at the LA Auto Show and got a chance to speak to senior management about their plans for Lotus and the challenges in launching 5 new cars in a short span of time. Short descriptions of the interviews and their major points are below but we recommend you watch the actual videos to get a sense about the future direction of Lotus

First up we spoke to Dany Bahar, the CEO of Group Lotus about his vision for the future of the company and why they were launching so many cars in such a short timeframe. Major points that he confirmed were:

  • Not all cars will be going to aluminium skins, the Elise will remain a composite body
  • Motorsports activities will include Evora GT4, Evora GT2, IndyCar (bespoke engine and aero)
  • Simultaneous worldwide launch with an intended volume of 6-7000 cars per year

Next up was Donato Coco, Head of Lotus Design and the man behind the 5 cars on display. He spoke to us about the challenges in designing iconic cars like the Esprit as well as the goals for the design language for the Lotus range. Our favorite quite here was that the design for the new front ends has been inspired by the original Lotus Seven and if you look at the cars (especially the Elise) it does actually come through.

Finally we spoke to Wolf Zimmermann, CTO of Lotus about the challenges in rapidly developing 5 new cars. This was a great interview with reasons behind various decisions and we recommend you watch the whole video below. Significant points include:

  • Aluminium bodies are required because composite cannot provide the required quality and shapes for the new designs
  • Engines are not yet confirmed but will be decided in the next few months
  • VVA architecture and manufacturing will have to be upgraded to meet targets
  • Lotus Engineering is already involved in some of the design processes

Metamorphosis

met•a•mor•pho•sis n. pl. met•a•mor•pho•ses

1. A transformation, as by magic or sorcery.
2. A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function.
3. Biology A change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage

Lotus-Metamorphosis

To celebrate the new changes at Lotus, the company has joined forces with award winning French artist Gerard Rancinan for a new publicity stunt called the Lotus Metamorphosis. The Lotus Metamorphosis represents a series of seven images created by Gerard Rancinan, together with a book French writer, Caroline Gaudriault. The Lotus Metamorphosis project is meant to capture the essence of the brand’s recent evolution.

With a perfect example of art in motion, Lotus are set to unveil Metamorphosis – a unique collaboration between Lotus and the award winning French artist Gérard Rancinan – on Friday (12th November) at an exclusive VIP event in Los Angeles. Metamorphosis is a selection of seven stunning images alongside a book created by French writer, Caroline Gaudriault. Both elements aim to capture the essence of Lotus’ evolution.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: “Lotus is currently going through a complete metamorphosis and at times it can be a real challenge to communicate the transition of a brand, especially one as iconic as Lotus. The passion people have for our brand can be both a blessing and a curse, everyone has a strong opinion – for this reason, we are always looking for creative ways to reach out to the world. When the idea was presented to me, I couldn’t resist. Gérard is an exceptional artist, I have followed his work closely over the years and I felt instinctively that he would be the perfect person to demonstrate our vision and encapsulate the spirit of our brand with his images. People are in for a real treat when they see all seven.”

Gérard Rancinan creator of Metamorphosis said: “I can see a clear artistic link between the work of Lotus and my photographs in terms of commitment, the relevance of the subject matter, the audacity of the creator, the beauty of the gesture and the perfection of the object. We are engaged in a dialogue which takes place on the same terrain: the world of art.”

Caroline Gaudriault author of the Metamorphosis book said: “Authors always look for a good story to use as a kind of canvas; their characters take on the form of living matter; they introduce twists and turns in their narratives in an attempt to surprise their readers. By immersing myself in the Lotus saga, I was able to find all the material I needed to create a feuilleton drawn from real life.”

Lotus Director of Design Donato Coco said: “From a design perspective Lotus is in full metamorphosis and it’s a natural progression for any forward thinking brand, in my view we are retaining the core DNA through everything we’re doing – the way I see it, Lotus is more Lotus now than ever before. We obsessively seek innovation, we are unique and we are bold, that is what Lotus is about. With the Metamorphosis collaboration we are simply spreading our wings. The project means a great deal to me personally, I have known Gérard for many years and we inspire each other through our work – he completely understands our vision for the future of Lotus whilst still paying great respect to our past.”

[press release from Lotus]

Great America Autocross Report

Text by Kiyoshi Hamai, Photos by David K Ellis, Video by Rahul Nair

The 2010 GGLC Autocross Series came to a close on October 16th at the expansion parking lot of Great America in Santa Clara.

The event closed what was another banner year of GGLC autocrossing that featured 6 points events, a practice event and two 2-day autocross schools. In all there were nearly 500 drivers who took over 5,000 runs and spent over 4,000 minutes on track (nearly 3 days of driving)!

We thank the 2010 GGLC Autocross Series sponsor Boardwalk Lotus, Redwood City, CA for supporting the entire series and providing our trophies and season ending BBQ celebration.

Final Round – October 16th
GGLC AutoCross 10t-15
70 drivers arrived and were confronted with a challenging course that twisted through the lot. Weather was “perfect” fall Bay Area, a bit cool in the morning with a very light breeze mid-day with a few clouds around to temper the sun.

Of the entrants 37 Lotus comprised of 21 Elise and 6 Exige, plus it was designated as “Classic Lotus” day. The classic Lotus were represented by 3 Seven/Seven clones, 3 early Elans, an Esprit and 3 Europas, or maybe we should say 2 Europas and a “Europa” in BIG quotes!

Course set-up took a bit longer than usual since we aren’t as familiar with the site and unlike the Marina site there aren’t any 20’ x 20’ squares in the concrete. But, we were up and ready to run by 8:30 and the first car hit the track right at 9 am.

This was a longish course, with a crossover. Coming from the start box was a very quick left-90 and then a slight right bend and a crest that made a blind entry into a sweeping and dipping right-hander. You then sweeped to the left under power into a sweeping 180 right that was followed by a 4 cone slalom. The trick was to stay well to the inside exiting the 180 to set up for the slalom.

It was back through the crossover and bend to the right with a tight exit as there was a bulge on the left. This was followed by a double right hand corners where you took the first as an early apex, then took an early turn in for the second as the tarmac fell away toward a drain in the lot and the car wanted to drift wide of the apex.

A fairly quick left sweep that led up to the far end of the lot and a 90-left followed by a straight and a box slalom. The final leg was another 4 cone slalom where the 3rd cone was off-set causing you to have to slow.

Raw TTOD went to our own Barry S. in the peusdo Europa with a 42.811. Barry just finished re-assembling and installing his engine the evening before after getting some machining done to cure an oil leak that cropped up 2 weekends earlier.
GGLC AutoCross 10t-183
Barry’s “Europa” may looks sort of like a Europa… the only part that’s still pure Europa are the door skins, roof panel and bit of the rear quarters and engine cover. Underneath is a modified Esprit chassis, custom suspension and a turbocharged 3 rotor Mazda 20B engine with Porsche gearbox.

John Z in the Flamer Europa got down to a 52.2 before running into a driveline problem and Tom C got his Toyota powered S2 Europa to a 56.499.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-21
The Elan drivers were showing their stuff with Royce H in his S3 Elan down to a 53.767 followed by Mel B at a 54.694 (when he could find his way around the course) and Dan W at a 56.083.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-176
The Seven-clones were speedy and competitive with the quickest being Jim R in his WCM Ultralite getting down to a 47.489, Rahul N also in a WCM Ultralite at 47.511 and then Dave H in a Caterham Superlight at 47.840. Great driving from all three to be within 4 tenths of one another!

Andy C took the his Esprit to best 54.796.

And then came the gaggle of Elise and Exige drivers.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-134
Fast time for this group went to Shelly M at a blazing 45.328, showing everyone why Shelly is the reigning 2010 SCCA SoloII Champion.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-51
For stock Elise came Cappy P with a 48.975 and stock with R tires was Alfonso C at 47.634. The quickest Exige was driven by Pascal V with a 47.165 just besting Hiroshi K at 47.913.

The Open Class was topped by Barry’s Europa and 2nd went to Issac A in a EvoX at 46.103.

BBQ and Year-end Awards
As has become the tradition at the final event, we arranged for a catered BBQ lunch complete with tables, chairs and tablecloths! BBQ beef and chicken with potato salad and dessert was prepared on site and year end trophies awarded.

This year the Open Class winner was a repeat champion, Joshua S in his 2006 Evo-IX. 2nd in class was Issac A in his 2008 Evo-X.

In what can only be called an upset the Lotus class Champion went to Shelly M who’s consistent finishes put her a top last year’s champ, Jason S.

We also had a chance to take this fantastic photograph of all the Lotus lined up during the lunch break. Click on the image to see the full resolution version but be warned that it is a very large file (10 MB)
lotus-pano

GGLC Autocross 2011
We now get a bit of a breather over the winter. And, within the next couple months the 2011 GGLC Autocross calendar will be announced. It’s likely there will 6 points events with one or two practice events, a autocross school and LOG 31 (Lotus Owners Gathering) in Las Vegas where the GGLC has been asked to host the LOG Autocross. So 2011 will be fun and busy!

Photo Gallery
A huge thanks to Dave Ellis for taking these wonderful pictures and making them available to the club.

The Historic Grand Prix Experience

IMG_1156

I recently had the pleasure of talking to long time GGLC member and Historic Grand Prix racer Chris Locke at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Chris has been campaigning his ex-Andretti JPS Lotus 77 in historic grand prix for five years and graciously agreed to share his experiences with the rest of the GGLC. The following is our exclusive interview with him discussing the Historic Grand Prix experience, the history of his car and comparing the 77 to other cars both new and old.

You can see more pictures of the Lotus 77 on the Flickr set below while video from the Monterey Motorsports Reunion Historic Grand prix is available here. For more info on Chris and his cars please visit Checkered Past Racing.

Historic Formula 1 @ Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Video)

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.

Evora Cup GT4 North American Premiere

Evora GT4 Cup
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.

Evora GT4 Cup
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.

Evora GT4 Cup engine bay
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.

Evora GT4 Cup Rear Wing
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.

Evora GT4 Cup rear bodywork
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:

Lotus Challenge Series racer and all around Lotus fan Andy Kern was one of the lucky few that got a ride and gave us this feedback comparing it to his Lotus 211 racecar:

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.

A huge thanks to our friends at Lotus Cars USA and Boardwalk Lotus for inviting us to the event. News

Lotus Exos T125 revealed (GGLC World Exclusive)

Lotus Exos T125 "Laguna Seca" "Pre-Reunion"

The GGLC was proud to attend the world premier of the new Lotus Exos Type 125 at the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion today. The Lotus T125 is an F1 inspired track only car that uses Formula technology and a Cosworth V8 to provide stunning performance for the ultimate track day toy.

Lotus Exos T125

The first things that strikes you when you walk in is how much it looks like a current generation F1 car. The chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque with both the wide front wing and the narrow rear wings of the 2009-spec F1 cars. It also has the coke bottle shape, top exit exhaust and shark fin engine covers that have been in vogue. Other technical similarities include carbon ceramic brakes and a carbon fiber pushrod suspension.

Lotus Exos T125 "Laguna Seca" "Pre-Reunion"

The F1 technology continues inside the cockpit there the car uses paddle shifters to control the semi automatic gearbox as well as a multi function screen on the steering wheel that allows drivers to set the various parameters on the fly.

Cosworth GPV8 Exos Lotus T125 engine

The engine is a 3.5L Cosworth GPV8 that has been detuned to produce 650 bhp with a 10,300 rpm redline (10,800 push to pass). Weighing just 650kg the car will have a power to weight ratio just shy of 1000 bhp per ton and should be faster than anything this side of a recent Formula 1 car.

Lotus Exos T125 Cosworth GPV8 engine alternator

Unlike an F1 engine, the GPV8 is designed to run 4500 km between rebuilds and has a starter motor (note the alternator above) so that you don’t need a support crew to be able to run the car at the track. Notably absent chassis features include double-diffusers, exhaust blown diffusers, flexi wings, f-ducts and other F1 innovations that were created to get around the various rules. Being a track only car and not built to a particular series, Lotus has been able to use the best features of F1 without having to use the various rules workarounds. Its a clean sheet design where the designers were told to “have at it boys”.

Lotus Exos T125 Rear Wing + Diffuser

Lotus plans to make just 25 Exos next year and will be pricing then at one million dollars apiece. Apart from the car itself, the Exos program will also include 5 “driver events” at various race tracks that will allow the owners to slowly come up to speed with the performance of their new car by getting instruction and advice from a variety of current and past Lotus drivers (a little birdy tells us that Mika Häkkinen and Jarno Trulli will be involved).

For more on the Exos please watch this video of Stephen Wright from Lotus Motorsports explaining the philosphy behind the Exos.

You can also see the rest of our Exos pictures in the slideshow below or head directly on to Flickr. 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.

A huge thanks to our friends at Lotus Cars USA and Boardwalk Lotus for inviting us to the event.