Lotus is amongst the best known names in motor sport and this year is the 75th anniversary of the first Lotus, the Mk I, which was a trials car built by the company founder Colin Chapman in 1948. Synonymous with worldwide racing success ever since, and the company has pioneered many of the technical innovations which make racing and which play a part in the sport today. What an impressive roll-call of honours: seven Formula 1 Constructors’ titles, six Drivers’ Championships and victory in the legendary Indianapolis 500. I can recall watching Lotus Formula Fords in action on our Irish circuits in the relatively early days of the formula and Tyrone driver Mike Nugent was best known amongst the Elan racers in Ireland; one notable occasion when he beat saloon legend Gerry Marshall at Kirkistown; the English driver was behind the wheel of Jackie Patterson’s Vauxhall Firenza.
Bringing the Lotus story up to date is the Emira GT4; currently in production and now ready for delivery to its first customers, with a significantly enhanced specification and performance. After extensive development work by the Lotus team in collaboration with world-renowned motorsport partner the RML Group, the car has been upgraded from the version that was unveiled at a VIP event at Hethel, in Norfolk last year. Improvements include: increased power, up by more than 10% to 455bhp, an all new six-speed paddle shift sequential racing gearbox and control system; optmised aerodynamics to suit a variety of race tracks, both tight/twisty and fast/flowing and enhancements to the braking system, springs, damping and cooling packs. The 3,456cc engine is the Toyota V6 2GR-FE, tuned by Lotus.
The Emira GT4 has been homologated for competition in world GT4 classes and, thanks to a comprehensive options list, is also eligible for other non-homologated and specialist race series around the world. The new GT4 is the culmination of 75 years of innovation on the road and race track, and marks the start of an exciting new era for the company. Recently Lotus has been racing with the Evora GT4, which won prestigious races and championships in categories such as British GT, Dubai 24hrs, Barcelona 24hrs, European GT, Sepang 12hrs and the Pirelli World Challenge; quite a competitive roll of honour.
Someone who has been closely involved from day one in the development of the Emira GT4 is Gavin Kershaw, (Director of Vehicle Attributes at Lotus): He is a former British GT Championship winner and he has been heavily involved in the development of the Emira GT4. He recognised that the Emira road car was such an excellent starting point for a GT4, and it is now further refined and tuned with the team at RML to create what he believes is a highly competitive and performance-oriented race car. According to Gavin, first examples of the eagerly anticipated new Lotus will be shipped to owners over the summer, with orders from the UK, Europe, China, Australia and the USA. All of the customer cars are being hand-built by the RML team at a dedicated new production facility at Wellingborough and interestingly there is no limit on the number which can be produced.
Throughout its history, Lotus has had a reputation for designing and building some of the most attractive sportscars to take to the road and race track, the Elan Plus Two being the first Lotus road car not to be offered in kit form, and the Eclat and Elite of the mid-1970s being offered only in factory built versions. The Emira for road and track will now fly the flag for Lotus.