Lotus Hits Frankfurt With Big Motorsport Plans

Motorsport was the big news on the Lotus stand at Frankfurt, with the formal announcement of the company's return to F1 in 2010 and the motor show debut of the Lotus Evora Type 124 endurance racer.

Lotus wasn't exactly saying much about its F1 plans, though. All a Lotus spokesman would tell us was this: "Lotus will be in F1 in 2010, and the project is being Malaysian-led, but the details are still being finalised."

The Lotus chaps were much more keen to talk about their new Type 124 endurance racer, however. PH even managed to collar Lotus development engineer extraordinaire and Type 124 project boss Gavan Kershaw to show us around the car.

The first thing you notice in the metal about the Type 24 is how well finished it is. "We didn't want to be half-hearted with this project" he told me. "We were going to do it properly or not at all." As a result the carbon fibre door cards are properly finished, the rear diffuser follows the styling line of the rear bumper, and the whole car has the well-finished aura of a road car rather than the hurriedly bolted-on feel of some racers.

The plan eventually is that the Evora Type 124 will be homologated for either FIA or GT3-spec racing, but until the technical regulations for those series are finalised - and until Lotus knows exactly how quick the Evora Type 124 is - the two factory-supported cars will run broadly to VLN Nurburgring endurance championship regs.

"We haven't even finalisd on the engine yet," says Gavan. "We could run it with a supercharger, but that would put us into a higher class, so we're also looking at a bored-out 3.7 or 3.8-litre naturally aspirated version.

So could any of the features of the racer - particularly the supercharger - make it to roadgoing Evoras? "Some of the aero bits and carbon fibre trim could theoretically make it onto roadgoing Evoras, but we want to to maintain the Evora's road-car focus, so it's pretty unlikely. As for a supercharged road car? A faster Evora is obviously a given if you look at Lotus's past, but it won't necessarily be supercharged. It depends on the race programme really. If we don't end up using the supercharger on the race car, it might not find its way to a road car, either."

There was plenty of road-car product on display, too. As well as the Evora and the supercharged Elise, Lotus displayed two new models for the first time - the Exige Cup 260 and the Elise Club Racer.

The Exige Cup 260 is Lotus's most focused Exige yet, and features a host of handling upgrades and weight-saving tricks, while its 257bhp supercharged Toyota motor will catapult it to 60mph in 4.0secs and to 100mph in 9.9 secs. The Cup 260 also features a restyled front end with larger air intakes and a new rear wing from the 2007 Geneva show Exige GT road car concept.

The Elise Club Racer is less of a track-focused weapon and is really more a cosmetic makeover of the 134bhp Elise S, with body colour interior trim panels, lightweight seats with exposed shell elements and a choice of four colours used by Lotus in the 1960s.

Along with the presence of Lotus Engineering's clever new off-the-shelf hybrid Range Extender engine, it was an impressive and varied display of technology and new metal. This was Lotus's first Frankfurt show for over a decade and to see the boys and girls from Hethel with so much to show on their comeback is clearly a sign that Lotus is in pretty rude health.

Comments (18) Join the discussion on the forum

  • PompeyM3 16 Sep 2009

    Glad to hear lots of good news coming out of Lotus. Shame we can't have the Black & Gold JPS F1 cars back, guess it will be a green & yellow.

  • DeltaEvo2 16 Sep 2009

    That looks like the latest McLaren...

  • CypherP 16 Sep 2009

    Awesome news that we will have another team in the F1 next year! I'm really looking forward to seeing what Lotus can bring to the table after all this time. Considering their engineering knowledge and track record, it should make next year's racing interesting. I wonder who they will have as drivers?

    The 124 looks so good and another wish for something like that to be road-legal. That exige is also damn nice. Oh if only i could afford an Exige at the moment...

  • Lord_Colin 16 Sep 2009

    First, Lotus showes us the great new Evora. The press loves the Evora to, and know, we se the new Evora track car. We also hear, that the name Lotus will be back in the kingsclass of motorsport, the F1.
    I'ts clear know, Lotus is back, stronger than ever and I have a feeling, this is only the beginning .....
    The procress Lotus has made over the last view years is astonishing! I guess, this was initialized by Mike Kimberly, he somehow broad the spirit back, but was experienced enough, to know, what it needs to survive in todays markets. Obviously, Lotus still has the manpower, to perform, like they do.
    I pray, that the Evora will bring enough money, so Lotus can show us and the world, that tey are able to make a great sportcar, with the new Esprit!
    From a Lotus Dealer in the US I know, that the Evora already has gained in their order books.

    Many thanks to all the hard working people at Lotus, you all make me once more happy and proud of the brand Lotus !!

  • Ex Boy Racer 16 Sep 2009

    I'll give £10 to charity if Lotus is in F1 next year.

    Malaysian dreaming I'm afraid

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