From some So-Cal members of the California Caterham Club:
ZIONSVILLE, IN (December 21, 2009) — Legends of Motorsports, has announced an additional event to its premium historic automobile race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park on May 20-23, 2010. The special race will solely include Lotus racing cars, featuring a variety of the marque’s most popular models.
“Few brands of race cars have more racing mystique than Lotus,” observed Legends of Motorsports co-founder and partner Bobby Rahal. “For anyone who loves these great cars, and there are many, it will be very exciting to see a sea of Lotus racers battling it out on the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park circuit.”
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum at the Barber Motorsports Park includes more than 1000 vintage and modern motorcycles and a substantial collection of 43 vintage Lotus cars, the largest collection in North America.
Consequently, the Lotus-exclusive race will be open to a raft of years and models of the famed British sports cars including Lotus 7, Lotus Super 7, Lotus 9, Louts 11, Lotus 15, Lotus 17, Lotus 19, Lotus 23, Lotus 26, Lotus 47 and Lotus 62.
Rahal, a revered international racing champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner, is one of three Legends of Motorsports primary partners through the brand’s Historic Motorsports Productions (HMP) parent company. He is joined in the venture by Just Marketing International (JMI) founder and CEO, Zak Brown and noted business
executive Peter Stoneberg, who serves as CEO for HMP. All three men are active participants in historic racing in their own right.
Legends of Motorsports events typically include a variety of the most popular historic racing classes and cars. These include GTP/Group C; 3.0 Liter era Formula One; F.I.A. Championship of Makes; 2.0 Liter Sports Racers; Trans-Am; Can-Am; IMSA GT/Production Cars; and Formula Libre. In addition, at certain events individual automobile manufacturers and classes will be celebrated through special programming. Beyond vintage racing, HMP event weekends feature a variety of entertainment diversions such as fashion shows, race car parades, car shows and rallies.
“The owners of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, founder George Barber and the museum staff are truly great stewards of racing history,” said Rahal. “They appreciate the legacy of legendary racing marques and certainly Lotus is high on that list. Their stellar facility will be a perfect venue for guests to appreciate the best of this historic racing brand.”
Tickets for the Legends of Motorsports at Barber Motorsports Park are on sale to the public beginning January 15, 2010.
About Historic Motorsports Productions
Historic Motorsports Productions LLC (HMP) is a business partnership dedicated to staging the Legends of Motorsports, a Bobby Rahal Signature Event, which is an annual series of premium vintage racing events and related lifestyle experiences at historic North American venues. Based in Zionsville, Indiana, HMP’s principal owners are racers and businessmen Bobby Rahal, Peter Stoneberg and Zak Brown. Additional equity investors in HMP include Spire Capital Partners and Just Marketing International, which provides comprehensive strategy, marketing, public relations and event logistics services to the venture. For more information, please visit HMP on the worldwide web at www.hmpseries.com or by calling (317) 344-1998. ?
About Barber Motorsports Park and Zoom Motorsports:
Barber Motorsports Park opened in the spring of 2003. Since its inception, Zoom Motorsports, LLC has been the exclusive event promoter for the events at the Park. The 2.38 mile racing circuit is 45 feet wide, with 17 turns and elevation changes of more than 80 feet. The Barber Motorsports Park has been considered one of North America’s finest road courses for car and motorcycle racing, and has served as the venue for several international product launches. The Barber Motorsports Park also features the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. This 144,000 square-foot facility houses more than 1,000 vintage and modern motorcycles from 17 different nations and more than 125 manufacturers. For more information, please visit www.barbermotorsports.com.
Family-owned business Qvale Auto Group said Wednesday it purchased Silicon Valley Auto Group and its franchises, which includes the Lotus of Los Gatos dealership. The SVAG group is to be renamed Los Gatos Luxury Cars and its franchises will remain at shared locations in Los Gatos: 66 East Main Street and 620 Blossom Hill Road. The Qvale Auto Group also owns Lotus of San Francisco dealership which is part of the British Motor Car Distributors located on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.
Silicon Valley Auto Group has been a long time supporter and sponsor of the GGLC and we wish them all the best for the future.
[via the San Jose Business Journal]
F1 driver Jarno Trulli straight from being announced as driver for Lotus F1 Racing in Malaysia made the trip to the home of Lotus at Hethel in England, visiting where Lotus history was made.
Jarno was also given a special tour of the Classic Team Lotus workshops by Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman. During the visit to Classic Team Lotus Jarno viewed some of the most successful and iconic F1 racing cars of all time. The tour was steeped in Lotus heritage and included some of the F1 cars that helped Lotus to achieve 79 GP wins, seven constructor’s titles and 6 drivers’ championships, including, Emerson Fittipaldi’s Type 72, Graham Hill’s Type 49 and Jim Clark’s Type 25.
Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus plc said, “The family gets bigger with the arrival of Jarno. It was very special to host Jarno at Group Lotus, he is an exceptional driving talent and we wish him and Lotus F1 Racing every success for the 2010 F1 season.”
Dany Bahar continued, “We take great pride in the sports cars that we produce at Hethel and Jarno’s visit provided a great opportunity to show off the multi-award winning cars that we produce and the advanced niche production facilities at Hethel.”
Jarno had a fantastic time driving the Lotus Evora and visiting the home of the iconic Lotus marque, commenting, “Gino Rosato and I come from the same region of Italy, Abruzzo, we have been close friends for years and it was always a dream of ours to work together. Claudio Berro and Dany Bahar are also old friends and I honestly never thought that I would get the opportunity to work with these great people.”
He went on to say,” It was a great occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the fantastic Classic Lotus F1 cars and new Lotus models. The facilities at Group Lotus are very impressive and I was amazed at the dedication and craftsmanship that goes into the production of Lotus cars. The Lotus Evora lived up to all my expectations of what a Lotus would be like to drive. It is clearly a very well engineered car that provides an exceptionally rewarding drive and I am looking forward to Lotus’ exciting future.”
[press release from Lotus]
The Golden Gate Lotus Club is pleased to announce another full season of Lotus Open Track Days in 2010! There are currently 4 GGLC Open Tracks Days are on the calendar and there’s more to come! Join the fun!
March 23 – Laguna Seca
May 18 – Thunderhill
July 13 – Thunderhill
Sept 28 – Thunderhill
GGLC Open Track Days are designed to allow the Lotus and sports car enthusiast enjoy driving in controlled conditions without random traffic and law enforcement. GGLC Open Track Days are not races, but allow the driver to run at their pace and enjoy the capability of the car. Click here for more info.
Press release from Lotus
Group Lotus is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Donato Coco as Director of Design for Group Lotus starting 04 January 2010. In this newly created role, Donato will lead all Lotus Design activities for Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering.
Head of Lotus Design, Russell Carr will continue to work on both Lotus products and third party design work, an area which is growing rapidly especially in the emerging Asian markets.
Dany Bahar, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc said, “The appointment of Donato Coco as the new Director of Design for Lotus puts even more prominence on design within Lotus and strengthens the already talented team. We have a very busy few years ahead of us as we are working on a new strategic business plan which will include the introduction of an all new range of Lotus cars and expansion of our third party design work.”
Donato Coco is looking forward to the new challenge, “Lotus has a reputation for designing evocative sportscars and it is a great honour to take on these responsibilities and challenges. Russell Carr and the rest of the Lotus Design team have already elevated Lotus Design to a globally recognised level and the increase in our third party design work for clients around the world is proof of our capabilities. I am looking forward to building on these foundations to deliver beautiful and relevant Lotus cars designs whilst at the same time acknowledging the peerless heritage and core values of this wonderful British brand.”
Donato Coco was previously Director of Design and Development – Ferrari where he worked on the Ferrari F430 Scuderia coupé and Spider 16M, Ferrari California, 599XX and the F458 Italia. Prior to Ferrari, Donato worked for Automobiles Citroën rising to the position of Chief Designer and was responsible for, amongst others, the Xsara, Picasso, C3, C3 Pluriel, C2, C1, ZX Paris Dakar and the Xsara WRC.
Donato Coco holds an MA in Automotive Design from the Royal College of Art, London, England. Whilst at the RCA, he was awarded first prize in a design competition, which was presented to him by Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Donato Coco is an Italian national. He will be based at the Lotus Headquarters in Hethel, England.
About Lotus Design
Lotus Design has developed a unique understanding of what makes beautiful, iconic vehicles. A passion for design and breadth of experience allows Lotus to influence the whole product development process from the first mood boards and sketches through to production release. Working from a purpose built design studio since 2000, an ever-increasing global client base has seen design work delivered out of the USA, China and Malaysia. Lotus designers have a unique blend of passion and commercial pragmatism having worked on 23 major programmes including 5 production cars for Lotus and 8 production cars for clients, some of which are high volume cars in just 11 years. In each case, Lotus Design has worked closely with the client to deliver a product that fits their brand DNA and is commercially viable.
In addition to highly successful production programmes, Lotus Design also offers concept cars and show car build services presenting an enthralling blend of exterior and interior design that stimulates the customer on a practical, tactile and emotional level. Strong proportion, emotional form, dynamic line, innovative material choice and distinctive graphics are what, subconsciously; create a first and often lasting impression with a customer. In an increasingly competitive market, innovative and exciting design is relevant to all vehicle types and volumes and this is where Lotus Design excels.
Martin Brundle, one of the most talked about legends in British motorsport recently spent a day at the world-renowned Group Lotus UK headquarters, sampling a piece of Lotus heritage and driving the firm’s latest offering, the all new Lotus Evora.
Brundle called on Classic Team Lotus where Clive Chapman (son of Lotus’ founder Colin Chapman) showcased some of his Father’s much loved Formula 1 projects. Brundle also toured the state of the art manufacturing facilities and sampled the Lotus Evora for the first time around the famous Lotus test track.
It was fantastic for the Lotus workforce to see Brundle passing through; regularly holding court with the eager employees, happy to sign autographs and answer any questions posed. Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus said: “It is an honour for Lotus to host Martin Brundle, one of the most respected and popular names in motor sport. It was an incredible opportunity to demonstrate our exciting array of vehicles and the work of our talented employees to one of the most esteemed analysts in the automotive arena and I am delighted with his positive responses.”
Brundle was joined by his son Alex, one of the rising stars of the Formula Two Championship, proudly following in his fathers motor sport footsteps and dreaming of a future in Formula 1. Martin Brundle thoroughly enjoyed his visit to one of the world’s most iconic automotive marques, commenting: “I remember first visiting Hethel in the 1960s, when my Father drove a Lotus Cortina. I am equally impressed now as I was then and as a Norfolk man, I am delighted Lotus is performing so well. I was pleased to see my old friend Gino Rosato and after hearing more about the future plans from Dany Bahar and his team, I am looking forward to the forthcoming products to come out of Hethel.”
Brundle was further impressed with the new Lotus Evora: “I was especially keen to drive the Evora after reading so many positive magazine reports. On a wet track, the cornering grip and particularly the braking performance deeply impressed me. It’s a quality sports car.”
Lotus F1 Racing has today confirmed that Italy’s Jarno Trulli, Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen and Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy have joined the team to spearhead driving duties for its debut Formula 1 season in 2010.
There has been much speculation surrounding the identity of Lotus F1 Racing’s driver signings in recent weeks, but the appointment of Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz was made formal in an official announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon, at which Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz were also present.
35-year-old Trulli is one of the most experienced, consistent racers in Formula 1 and unquestionably still one of the fastest men over a single lap. He is one of just a select few drivers to have tasted victory in Formula 1, and that at the jewel in the crown of Formula 1 racing, the Monaco Grand Prix. He has also finished in the top ten of the drivers’ Championship table on seven occasions.
Heikki’s F1 career began in 2006 when he made his debut as a test driver. His appointment to the Lotus F1 Racing team will see the 28 year old Finn starting his fourth season in the Formula 1 World Championship and he brings with him a race winning reputation, confirmed by his first victory in Hungary in 2008, and a wealth of experience that will make a potent combination with fellow race driver Jarno Trulli and Fairuz Fauzy.
27-year-old Fauzy joins the team having previously held a Formula 1 testing role for the Spyker squad back in 2007. Since then he has driven in the F1 feeder series GP2, the World Series by Renault, as well as being named as lead driver for Malaysia’s involvement in the A1GP Championship.
It is a reflection of the determination and status of Lotus F1 Racing to return to Formula 1 that they have hired two race winning drivers for the debut season.
TONY FERNANDES – TEAM PRINCIPAL
“I am thrilled that we have been able to sign Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz to drive for Lotus F1 Racing in our debut season. The appointment of Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz as our race drivers is a testament to the quality of our team, to our ambition and drive, and above all to our long-term vision of success in Formula 1. Jarno and Heiki are winners and have proven track records in Formula 1, and will be a big asset to us as we look to develop the team and the car throughout 2010. Jarno and Heikki are two extremely versatile drivers who have proven themselves more than capable of achieving solid results no matter how tough the conditions. Having Fairuz on board is also great news. He is undoubtedly the best Malaysian senior driver at the moment and it is a pleasure to welcome him into Malaysia’s Formula 1 team. We only secured our 2010 entry from the FIA in September and already we have our first car in production and have signed two Formula 1 race winners to drive for us, as well as a home-grown Malaysian driver. Not bad for three months’ hard work! There is more to come from us and we head into the holiday period buoyed by what we have accomplished already but inspired to push the boundaries yet further.”
JARNO TRULLI – LOTUS F1 RACING DRIVER
“It is a privilege for me to sign for the new Lotus F1 Racing team. I have been impressed by the long-term vision of the team management and technical staff. Tony has set out very ambitious plans and I am ready to help the team achieve these high targets. I am also pleased to be back working alongside Mike Gascoyne, someone with whom I have enjoyed previous success at other teams. I get on very well with him and I respect his working style. Lotus is a truly iconic and inspirational brand and it is great that the name is back in Formula 1. We will be hoping to draw inspiration from the heritage of Lotus for our team.”
“I am also delighted to be racing alongside Heikki, someone who I have enjoyed racing against since 2007, and someone else, like me, who brings valuable experience from his time with two of Formula 1’s most established teams. I believe that together, we are among the most competitive pairings on the grid, and we will be determined to bring success to Lotus F1 Racing to repay the faith that Tony and the team have shown in us.”
“The fact that the team is Malaysian gives us all an extra responsibility because we will be carrying the hopes of a nation on our shoulders, but we will give the absolute maximum to reward their loyalty and trust. I am here to win; I will fight for the team and for Malaysia. Every proud Malaysian should be behind the team.”
HEIKKI KOVALAINEN – LOTUS F1 RACING DRIVER
“It’s fantastic to be joining Lotus F1 Racing and I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead. I recently visited our factory in Norfolk, UK, and was so impressed by seeing how far the team has come in such a short time since it was launched in September, and by how determined everyone is to meet Tony’s ambitious targets. I knew immediately it would be a fantastic opportunity to help them achieve their goals.”
“I believe that appointing two drivers with the experience Jarno and I have shows how determined the team is to go racing in a truly competitive way, and our pairing sends out a very strong message to our competitors.”
“I’m also excited to be part of a team that is not only bringing back the Lotus name, one of the most iconic teams in any form of global motorsport, but also doing so with the support and backing of Malaysia, a country I fell in love with when I first raced there in 2007. I can’t wait to begin working with Tony, Mike and the team they are putting together, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the welcome we will be given by Formula 1 fans around the world as we bring Lotus F1 Racing to the grid.”
FAIRUZ FAUZY – LOTUS F1 RACING DRIVER
“There is no greater honour than having the chance to drive for your country. I was given the opportunity to do that for A1 Team Malaysia in A1GP for a couple of years, but to have the chance to join Malaysia’s first fully fledged Formula 1 team is very special for me and the highlight of my career so far. I look forward to working closely with Jarno and Heikki on developing the car and the team in our first season together in Formula 1. I am sure we can do Malaysia as a nation proud, as well as upholding the tradition of such a legendary F1 name such as Lotus. Furthermore I look forward to developing as a driver in Formula 1 with the team in the future.”
JARNO TRULLI PROFILE
Jarno made a fighting start to his Formula 1 career when he joined the Minardi team in 1997, but after just seven races he was asked to replace the injured Olivier Panis at Prost where he made an immediate impact. He finished fourth in the German GP and led the Austrian GP until he was cruelly denied a sensational podium finish with an engine failure. Nonetheless, Jarno had made his mark and stayed at the Prost team for a further two seasons. Results were not forthcoming but he claimed his first career podium with a fine drive to second place in the wet European GP in 1999. The result was something of a fitting farewell to his time at Prost as Jarno joined the Jordan Grand Prix squad for the new Millennium.
It was another barren period for Jarno in terms of podium results but a handful of fourth places and some sublime qualifying performances attracted the attentions of the Renault team for 2002. His first year at the French manufacturer alongside Jenson Button did little to improve upon his previous results but in 2003, with the team’s technical department led by Mike Gascoyne, he was given a more competitive car with which to show his full potential. Racing alongside Fernando Alonso, Jarno returned to the podium for the first time since his Prost days with third place in the German GP at Hockenheim. The result gave Jarno renewed confidence and paved the way for Jarno’s breakthrough season in 2004.
Once again partnering Alonso, Jarno attained regular points and podium challenges before taking a breathtaking victory around the streets of Monte Carlo. Jarno had established himself as one of the men to beat but midway through the year relations with his team had started to deteriorate and towards the end of the year he opted for a surprise switch to Toyota with whom he would stay until 2009.
In his five-and-a-bit seasons with Toyota Jarno put in some incredible performances both in qualifying and in races. In his first full season with the team in 2005, with Mike Gascoyne at the technical helm, he was one of the Championship leaders in the early races taking Toyota’s first ever podium results in Malaysia and Bahrain. Toyota’s competitiveness dropped off after Gascoyne’s departure from the team in 2006 and Jarno was only able to fight for occasional points finishes until a reversal of fortunes in 2008. His scored his first podium in three years at the French Grand Prix and Toyota were one of the teams to beat in the first races of 2009. Jarno took an incredible pole position in Bahrain but a miscalculated race strategy prevented him from converting it into the team’s maiden victory. Nevertheless, with two podiums from the first four races and a highly competitive second place in the team’s home race in Japan, Jarno ended the season – what would be Toyota’s final in Formula 1 – with some career-high performances.
Incredibly, the 2010 season will mark Jarno’s 14th season in Formula 1 but he shows no signs of slowing down. By joining Lotus F1 Racing, Jarno has the chance to rejoin Mike Gascoyne and to spearhead a brand new team into Formula 1. His vast experience racing at the pinnacle of motorsport and his respected reputation as a team-player will be vital characteristics to the new Lotus F1 Racing team as they fight their way up the grid during 2010.
HEIKKI KOVALAINEN PROFILE
Heikki started his motor racing career karting in the early 1990’s. His first recognition came with second place in the Finnish Formula A Championship in 1999 and 2000. That year also saw Heikki add the Scandinavian Championship and the Elf Masters, held at Paris Bercy, to his achievements, earning him title of Karting Driver of the Year in his native Finland.
Heikki’s success saw him move up to the British Formula Renault Championship in 2001, bringing two wins, two poles and three fastest laps, enough to give him fourth place in the Championship, plus the 2001 Finnish Automobile Sports Federation “Rookie of the Year” award. That same year, Heikki made his F3 debut at the world renowned Macau Grand Prix, finishing 8th.
In 2002 Heikki moved on to compete in the British F3 Championship, scoring an impressive five wins, three poles and three fastest laps, securing his third position in drivers’ standings. He was once again given the “Rookie of the Year” award, and won the prestigious F3 support race at the British Grand Prix. He capped an impressive year by finishing second in Macau and fourth at the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort.
In 2003 Heikki competed in the World Series by Nissan: a win and two poles were enough to get second place in the Championship. That same year he also made his F1 test debut, driving the Renault R23 at Barcelona and the Minardi Cosworth at Vallelunga two weeks later.
2004 brought more success for Heikki, securing the World Series by Nissan Championship. Driving for the Pons Team he crushed the opposition, with six wins, nine poles and ten fastest laps to his name, competing alongside Tiago Monteiro, Enrique Bernoldi and Narain Karthikeyan. As a member of the Renault Driver Development Program Heikki assisted with the development of Renault’s Championship winning R24, adding to his growing F1 experience.
Stade de France, Paris, was the venue for the season ending Race of Champions in 2004. Alongside Marcus Gronholm, Heikki represented Finland in the Cup of Nations, where he and his team mate took the runner-up spot. However, the top step of the podium did not elude him long, with Heikki winning the coveted Champion of Champions title by beating 2004 World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb and seven times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher in front of a packed stadium.
In 2005 Heikki moved up to GP2, taking part in the inaugural series with Arden Motorsport. His impressive development continued, finishing second overall in the series, securing five wins and two poles along the way.
2006 saw Heikki make the step up to the very pinnacle of world motorsport, replacing Frank Montagny as the Renault F1 Team’s third driver. A series of impressive displays in testing saw him achieve his primary Formula 1 goal, with the announcement he had been promoted by the Renault F1 Team to a full-time race seat for the 2007 season.
Pitted against the vastly experienced Giancarlo Fisichella, Heikki enjoyed an excellent debut season in 2007, out-performing and out-scoring his team-mate, becoming second best rookie of the season after Lewis Hamilton and taking a very credible seventh place in the final Championship standings.
These achievements did not go unnoticed, and in December 2007 Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes announced Heikki as team-mate to Lewis Hamilton, a position he held for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, until today’s announcement of his appointment to Lotus F1 Racing. 2008 saw Heikki claim both his first pole position, at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and his first race win, at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he became the 100th driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
FAIRUZ FAUZY PROFILE
Mohamed Fairuz bin Mohamed Fauzy was born on 24 October 1982 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From an early age, Fairuz began displaying a natural aptitude to speed. As a child, when most other kids his age were watching cartoons or playing with their friends, Fairuz could be found on a go-kart circuit.
By the age of 12, he was already competing with senior drivers in international races. In 1995, Fairuz, 13, clinched his first victory in one of the Championships – the Formula TKM Race in Buckmore Park, England, which became the base from which he would launch his bid for Formula 1.
A host of other Championships followed, including 5 times consecutively reigning champion of the ASEAN Kart Prix from 1996-2000. In 2000, Fairuz moved to the UK to participate in his first international single-seater series – Formula Ford Zetec Championship. After that time, he participated in numerous races such as the British Renault Sport Winter Series, British Formula Renault Championship, British Formula 3 Scholarship Class and British Formula 3 Championship Class.
Fauzy moved to the GP2 Series in 2005, signing with the DAMS team and becoming the first Malaysian and one of only a number of Asian drivers in the Championship. Fairuz then contested the Championship in 2006 with the Super Nova International Racing team. During this period, he was also one of the A1 Team Malaysia’s drivers alongside Alex Yoong in the A1GP.
After GP2, Fauzy was confirmed as Spyker F1’s test and reserve drivers for 2007. He also participated in World Series by Renault in 2007 with Cram Competition team and in 2008 with Fortec Motorsport. Additionally, in 2008, he participated in GP2 Asia Series driving for the Super Nova team. He became the number 1 Asian driver after finishing fourth out of 26 drivers in the Championship.
Fairuz was the nominated first driver for A1 Team Malaysia in the 2008/09 season and participated in the World Series by Renault for MofazFortec Motorsport, the first Malaysian motorsport outfit in the Championship, finishing the season in second place with an impressive 98 points and one race win.
The new Lotus F1 Racing logo has been developed to represent the teams future and heritage. We have designed a typeface which is progressive and bold, yet instantly fitting with the teams long and successful history. Taking clues from the iconic Jim Clarke Type 49 the new ‘DNA’ device uses the Lotus colours in a recognizable form which is extremely flexible and will become a key element of the new team brand.
Press release from Lotus
Initial phase of Omnivore development achieves 10% improvement in fuel consumption compared to stratified direct injection engines, also with ultra low emissions. The research signals a potential paradigm shift with engine ‘upsizing’ for increased fuel economy.
The first testing phase of Lotus Engineering’s Omnivore variable compression ratio, flex-fuel direct injection two-stroke engine has been successfully completed on gasoline. In addition to exceptional fuel consumption results, the engine has successfully demonstrated homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) – where the engine operates without the need for the spark plug to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder – down to extremely light loads. Traditionally, this has been challenging but this combustion process results in ultra low emissions and has been achieved over a wide range of engine operating conditions, even from cold start.
The detailed research has so far focused on lower speed and load conditions that represent a major proportion of an engine’s operation in a real world environment. At 2000rpm and up to approximately 2.7 bar IMEP (Indicated Mean Effective Pressure), the ISFC (Indicated Specific Fuel Consumption) achieved is approximately 10% better than current spray-guided direct injection, spark ignition engines. Emissions results are an impressive 20 ppm NOx at less than 2.3 bar load and has four-stroke-equivalent hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions.
Simon Wood, Technical Director of Lotus Engineering said: “These impressive results represent an important step-forward in Lotus Engineering’s strategy of developing an array of more efficient multi-fuel combustion systems. Omnivore lays the foundations for a novel and pragmatic vision of a variable compression ratio engine concept suitable for production. A multi-cylinder version is practical for a wide variety of vehicles and offers greatest benefit to C and D class passenger cars which can take advantage of the low cost architecture and significantly improved fuel economy and emissions. We are continuing our discussions with other manufacturers and eagerly anticipate the development of multi-cylinder demonstrations of this revolutionary engine configuration.”
The Omnivore engine concept achieves wide-range HCCI combustion and low CO2 emissions through the application of a simple wide-range variable compression ratio mechanism, itself facilitated by the adoption of the two-stroke operating cycle. Technologies combined in this package are all synergistic and provide a route to the efficient use of alternative fuels, accelerating the displacement of fossil fuels.
Jamie Turner, Chief Engineer of Powertrain Research at Lotus Engineering said: “The automotive industry, including Lotus Engineering, has quite rightly advocated engine downsizing for four-stroke engines. This is as a result of the dominance of the four-stroke cycle in the automotive world and its generation of throttling losses at part-load, where vehicles run most of the time. The two-stroke cycle, conversely, does not suffer from significant throttling losses and in many ways is a more natural fit for automotive use. With the thermodynamic disadvantages of throttling losses removed, the two-stroke engine is free to be sized according to its improved part-load fuel consumption. Downsizing therefore isn’t vital and, due to the improved light-load efficiency and emissions performance we see with Omnivore, this technology approach and ‘upsizing’ could permit a more efficient engine.”
The initial Omnivore programme has been in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and Orbital Corporation Limited Australia, with sponsorship from DEFRA/DECC and DOE NI through the Renewables Materials LINK programme. Future work by Lotus Engineering will concentrate on further investigating the operation on gasoline and alternative renewable fuels such as ethanol and methanol, with more in-depth analysis of specific test points.
The Omnivore engine concept features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection. It is ideally suited to flex-fuel operation with a higher degree of optimisation than is possible with existing four-stroke engines.
The engine concept features a monoblock construction that blends the cylinder head and block together eliminating the need for a cylinder head gasket, improving durability and reducing weight. In this case, the application of a monoblock is facilitated by the absence of the requirement for poppet valves. A novel charge trapping valve in the exhaust port allows asymmetric timing of exhaust flow and continuous variation of the exhaust opening timing.
The Omnivore engine uses the Orbital FlexDI fuel injection system which produces fine in-cylinder fuel preparation irrespective of fuel type and, together with air pre-mixing, allows efficient two-stroke combustion and low-temperature starting, whilst offering singular opportunity for advanced HCCI control.
The variable compression ratio is achieved by the use of a puck at the top of the combustion chamber. This simple, yet effective system moves up and down effecting the change in geometric compression depending on the load demands on the engine.
Engine Concept Features
The monoblock incorporates the cylinder head, the cylinder barrel and the inlet ports, together with mounts for the variable compression ratio system and the charge trapping valve housing. It also contains the non-moving location of one of the two possible injector mounting positions provided for research purposes. The other injector position is in the variable compression ratio puck. The monoblock is mounted on the upper crankcase, which is a common component with all of Lotus’ single-cylinder research engines. The engine carries a full primary and secondary balancer system. The monoblock is water-cooled by an electric water pump.
Computational fluid dynamics is used extensively to ensure effective cooling of the monoblock, a feature assisted by the removal of the cylinder head gasket, inherent in such architecture. The chief advantage of a monoblock construction in any engine, aside from the bill of materials and assembly benefits, is the reduction of bore distortion afforded by the removal of cylinder head bolts. This is especially important in piston-ported 2-stroke engines.
Variable Compression Ratio Mechanism
The primary component of the variable compression ratio mechanism is what is termed the ‘puck’, or a moveable junk piston in the cylinder head. In the case of the research engine, this puck is driven in and out by a double-eccentric mechanism itself comprising proprietary parts. The puck itself does not move at engine speed. In addition to the spark plug, the puck carries one of two possible injector positions. It is water-cooled and carries simple piston (or ‘junk’) rings for primary sealing, and an ‘O’-ring towards the top for final sealing.
The variable compression ratio system is controlled by an electric motor and worm drive arrangement at the front of the engine. Because there are no poppet valves in the engine, it is clear that the puck could be of a large diameter and since there is no need for valve cut-outs in the piston crown, the minimum volume of the combustion chamber can be much smaller than has been the case in variable compression ratio engines shown to date. When the puck is in its innermost position, its surface is essentially coincident with that of the combustion chamber squish band and this yields the highest compression ratio of 40:1.
The combustion chamber geometry necessarily alters as the puck is moved to vary the compression ratio. The chamber geometry in Omnivore was therefore chosen on the basis of 2-stroke experience in spark ignition operation. Consequently, the puck is positioned in the cylinder head in such a way that the non-moving squish band directs cooling flow towards the spark plug. The puck is water-cooled from the main engine cooling circuit.
Charge Trapping Valve
The charge trapping valve is caused to oscillate by a short articulated connecting link from an engine-speed eccentric shaft itself rotated by a belt drive from the crankshaft. A simple charge trapping valve mechanism provides for asymmetric exhaust timing and hence a modification of the original piston-ported two-stroke operating cycle. Fitting an articulated link between the eccentric shaft and the trapping valve actuating arm affords the opportunity independently to vary the opening and/or closing point. In this ‘variable’ form, at light load, the charge trapping valve can be made to control exhaust port opening, to maximize expansion in the cylinder, and the blowdown period can be optimised. The position of the control arm is controlled by the engine management system. All charge trapping valve components and their configuration have been analysed kinematically, and since they operate with modified simple harmonic motion, they do not suffer from jerk stresses.
The cranktrain of the engine comprises an 86 mm stroke crankshaft, a trunk piston of 86 mm bore and a connecting rod with 195.5 mm between centres. The piston carries four piston rings: two pegged half-keystone compression rings which traverse the ports in the upper section, and a Napier scraper ring and U-Flex oil control ring in separate grooves in the lower portion. These are not pegged since they do not have to traverse the ports. In this manner, the working chamber is completely sealed from the crankcase and hence wet-sump lubrication can be employed.
Since this is a research engine, it is cooled by an electric water pump with a separate electrically-driven oil pump used for lubrication. Scavenge air is provided externally. For convenience, air for the Orbital air-assist DI system is provided from the factory air supply regulated to 6.5 bar maximum air delivery pressure. Note that in any multi-cylinder application it is envisaged that all these subsystems would be incorporated into the engine in the normal manner.