Lotus fans planning to eyeball the FIA Championship's new GT3 series next year will have a new Exige to cheer on (or put a hex on from afar). Lotus Sport's Exige GT3 race car (pictured) has passed preliminary shakedown testing, part of a process to qualify for the series, which requires a power-to-weight ratio of 380hp per metric ton (2,204 lbs). In the case of the Exige, the power part comes in the form of the familiar 1.8 2ZZ-GE VVTL-i engine, breathing through a Roots type supercharger and air to air intercooler, controlled by the Lotus T4e ECU, which conspire to produce 285 hp at 7,800 rpm. As for weight, the Exige tips the scales at 1,653lbs via typical Lotus weight-watching. A six-speed sequential transmission handles the cog swapping. The single-seat prototype has also been fitted with five-spoke forged alloys, carbon body panels and a high-downforce aerodynamic package incorporating a race front splitter and adjustable carbon fiber rear wing, plus FIA-required kit including six-point roll cage, ignition kill switches, and track-ready braking and suspension systems. Availability, full specs, and price of the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 will be available in early 2006. Press release after the jump.
Lotus Sport Exige GT3 undertakes testing for FIA GT3 European Championship
A prototype of the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 race car was unveiled at the annual FIA GT Championship presentation ceremony outside the world famous Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 02 December, 2005. The following day (03 December 2005), the first test for the car took place at the high speed Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in Southern France under FIA supervision, the first stage in the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 becoming eligible for FIA GT3 competition. This latest FIA series, which will start in 2006, is for race cars that have an equal power to weight, and that have a direct lineage to their road going versions.
The Lotus Sport Exige GT3 entrant has been developed by Lotus Sport, the performance arm of Lotus Cars and is a derivative of the standard Lotus Exige coup model. Weighing in at approximately 750 kg, it stays true to the performance through light weight core Lotus philosophy. The car uses a race prepared 1.8 2ZZ-GE VVTL-i engine with a Roots type supercharger and air to air intercooler which utilises the Lotus T4e Engine Control Unit to produce 285 hp (289 PS) at 7,800 rpm. This gives an impressive power to weight ratio of 380hp / tonne or 2.6 kg / PS.
Following a brief shakedown programme at the Lotus Test Track at Hethel, factory test driver Gavan Kershaw carried out final chassis set up work on wet tyres in the morning session at the Paul Ricard official FIA test. This was followed by an outing on slick tyres on a drying track by FIA nominated test driver Christophe Bouchut.
Commenting on the encouraging test session, Chris Arnold, General Manager of Lotus Sport, explained: We were delighted to attend the official FIA test session. Considering the car was still on the drawing board two months ago it s a fantastic achievement by the team to complete the build in such a short time. We knew this test would be a first shakedown for the car on slicks and I m very pleased with the results. Our winter development programme starts with a wind tunnel test just before Christmas followed by further work in preparation for the next FIA test in March.
The FIA has announced a five race European championship for the new GT3 class with rounds
in the UK, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. Various national GT Championships are also
considering amending their regulations to include a GT3 class.
Basic prototype specification
Like the standard Exige, the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 comes complete with the award-winning light weight bonded aluminium chassis. This is complemented by low weight 5-spoke forged alloy wheels, carbon body panels, and a revised high downforce aerodynamic package incorporating a race front splitter and adjustable carbon fibre rear wing. An FIA 6-point roll cage, ignition kill switches, and uprated braking and suspension systems including hlins 3-way adjustable dampers also feature on the new race car. A 6-speed sequential transmission system, and full data logging system have been fitted to the singleseater prototype vehicle.
Availability, full specification, and price of the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 will be announced in early
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