Lotus plans sports car return

Lotus is gearing up to return to the international sports car arena after an absence of more than a decade with a GT contender based on its Evora design and an LMP2 project.

The British sports car marque’s new motor sport boss, Claudio Berro, has revealed that the new Evora Cup GT4 unveiled in August is likely to become the basis of a car that could run in the new GT Endurance class under Le Mans rules, or in the FIA GT2 category. A move into the prototype ranks is also on the cards (see March issue), using a version of the Evora’s Toyota-based V6 engine in the LMP2 category.

“It is important that Lotus fights against top manufacturers at the highest level, and at the moment that means GT2,” said Berro. “We also want to race in prototypes, but going straight into LMP1 would be impossible.”

He explained that the Evora (above), which was due to make its race debut as a GT4 car at the end of August, fits the GT Endurance or GT2 regulations. He added that achieving 450bhp from a V6 that gives 360bhp in GT4 specification “is attainable”.

Berro said it was “absolutely possible” that Lotus could be on the grid in 2012 with a GT2-spec car. He has yet to put a timescale on a prototype entry, but an LMP2 project, with a proprietary chassis, could be used to develop the V6 engine from as early as next year.

Lotus last competed in top-line sports car racing in the mid-90s. The British Chamberlain Engineering squad took the name back to Le Mans with the Esprit Sport 300 in 1993, and then an in-house team fielded Esprits in GT2 and GT1-spec and the homologation special V8-engined GT1 based on the Elise aluminium chassis.