Lotus have another update on their motorsport activities over the past week, with strong finishes in the F1 in Canada, German Formula 3 and Formel Masters, news that the Exige R-GT will finally make it’s debut as the course car at the Geko Ypres Rally, and disappointment once again in Indycar.
FORMULA ONE – CANADIAN GRAND PRIX
Lotus was back on the podium in Montreal after Romain Grosjean clinched the best result of his F1 career so far with second place. Starting seventh on the grid on used super-soft tyres, he switched to new softs on Lap 21. When the leading cars of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, who were also one-stopping, struggled on old rubber in the final ten laps, two-stopping Lewis Hamilton was able to charge through and win. Romain was not far behind though after a spell of brilliant tyre management, passing Alonso for P2 on Lap 66 of 70.
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had suffered hydraulic issues in qualifying and started a disappointing twelfth. He started on new softs and switched to new super-softs on Lap 40. He crossed the line in P8, earning four points and bringing the team’s race tally to 22. Lotus now sits third in the constructors’ championship, ahead of Ferrari.
Romain Grosjean: “It wasn’t easy at the start because there was lots of traffic and I didn’t know whether the others were stopping once or twice. I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I knew we had good pace. It was crazy at the end because I was thinking P5 or P4, but the pace stayed there and the team did a fantastic job with the car, which was good on tyres. We knew with the heat we would be better today. It is fantastic to be on my second podium this season. I dedicate this result to my friend Guillaume Moreau, who had a crash at the Le Mans test day last week. I wish him a good recovery.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The car was a bit better in the race than it was in qualifying. I seemed to get stuck behind people a few times. We had a chance to do a bit better, but it didn’t quite all come together today. We scored points again so that’s always a good thing, especially this season. Qualifying yesterday wasn’t perfect so obviously that left us with more work to do. If you start further forward it’s easier to finish higher up the order. We’ll try to achieve that in the next race.”
It was a very disappointing night for Simona de Silvestro and the Lotus HVM Racing team. After strong practice and qualifying runs this weekend, the team came to Texas full of hope with an updated exhaust system that offered a promise of more speed and competitiveness. Unfortunately, the car was unable to start the race.
At 8:50 pm (ET), when the command was given to start the engines, two cars did not start on grid, Rubens Barichello’s #8 machine (KV Racing Technology) and Simona’s #78 car. “No fuel pressure” were the words that resounded over the HVM radio. The team rushed the car back to the garage to see what could be done to get the #78 machine to join the field. Unfortunately, this was not something that could be fixed in a short time. Twenty minutes later, they called it a night.
Simona de Silvestro: “We have one update finally, and then something like this happens, and it’s annoying. But that’s kind of how the whole season has been going with our program. The guys are working their butts off and we’re trying to make things happen, but we just don’t have the pieces all put together right now.”
Lotus’s Kimiya Sato starred at Germany’s Sachsenring with pole position, two wins from three races, a second place, and two fastest laps. He now leads the championship with 101 points, ahead of team mate Jimmy Eriksson who’s earned 73.
The Swede was baulked by traffic in qualifying and was denied a front row slot, starting P3 for Race 1. Meanwhile team-mates Artem Markelov and Sheban Siddiqi had their own issues, a misfire causing the Russian to start seventh while Siddiqi was sick as a dog last weekend due to food poisoning and unable to show his true speed. Race 1 saw Eriksson cross the line second behind Sato, with Markelov P4 and Siddiqi retiring due to illness. With the top eight reversed for Race 2, it was Sato again who showed tremendous racecraft, battling from eighth to second. Eriksson was similarly feisty, starting P7 and finishing third. Markelov took a trip through the gravel at the start of the race and recovered well to finish fifth. Siddiqi, feeling better, finished P10 having started at the back of the grid.
Race 3 was another Sato-fest. He beat Gerhard Berger’s nephew, Lucas Auer, and Stig Blomqvist’s son Tom to finish first. Ericksson was fourth, Siddiqi P12, and Markelov was disqualified for a dangerous pass.
Timo Rumpfkeil, team principal: “Kimiya did a fantastic and faultless job all weekend and deserves to now lead this championship. It was an epic performance. Jimmy was unlucky not to qualify on the front row. In Race 3 he was involved in some incidents which cost him a podium and some more points. Artem is feeling more and more at home in F3, for this is only his second year of car racing, and by setting the fastest lap in Race 2 he confirmed to me he has the speed to be a winner. There’s a lot more to come from Sheban, who suffered from food poisoning this weekend. Under the circumstances I think P10 in Race 2 was a great result. Overall this was a strong weekend for us, with two wins, three podiums, pole position and all three fastest laps. We’re keen to carry on this momentum and extend our lead in the upcoming races.”
Lotus’s Beitske Visser was forced to sit out the Sachsenring after her race win at Zandvoort. An accident in qualifying had resulted in her breaking a vertebra, yet this was not discovered by the hospital in Amsterdam and it was only when she went to see a specialist that the damage was clear – but it didn’t stop her winning that race! Nevertheless, doctors advised her not to race last weekend and so her position in the team was taken by Germany’s Hubertus Carlos Vier.
He qualified P8, while team-mate Marvin Kirchhofer took pole, Indy Dontje P4, Jeffrey Schmidt P6 and Kuba Dalewski P11. Kirchhofer led all but the final two laps when, with his tyres on their last legs, he was passed by Gustav Malja and settled for second. Dontje drove well to take the other podium spot. Schmidt was P5, Dalewski P9, Vier P10. In Race 2 it was Schmidt’s turn on the podium, finishing third. Kirchhofer was fourth, Dontje fifth, Vier seventh, and Dalewski P16. The third race was red flagged after a big crash two laps in and wasn’t restarted.
Lotus’s Marvin Kirchhofer leads the championship with 119 points to Gustav Malja’s 105, while Lotus dominate the team standings 70 points clear of Münke.
Timo Rumpfkeil, team principal: “A rather difficult weekend for us. Marvin’s pole was good, but the qualifying speed for our other drivers didn’t seem to be there. It was the same story in the race, where some struggled for speed and others were really quick, so we’re going to have to look into this. Nevertheless, we have maintained our lead in the championships. Indy scored his first podium, so congratulation to him, I’m sure it will be the first of many. Hubertus only had two test days to prepare having not been in a Masters car since last October, P4 in practice was a great sign. He was unlucky in the races, having a few clashes and losing places, but the speed is evident and I think he’ll be achieving podiums for Lotus soon, too.”
Claudio Berro, director of Lotus Racing: “Well done to Romain Grosjean on another great podium, and his personal best. That elusive first win for the Lotus E20 is so close it’s almost tangible, so I would like to thank the whole Lotus F1 Team for their hard work. And a strong weekend at the Sachsenring too, especially for the Lotus German F3 team. A truly dominant performance, especially from Japanese driver Kimiya Sato – the other Kimi in the Lotus family!”
The Lotus Exige R-GT will content the Geko Ypres Rally
Legendary British sports car marque Lotus will make its debut as a course car at Belgium’s Geko Ypres rally on the 21-23 June. Portuguese driver Bernado Sousa, who is set to race the Lotus Exige R-GT later this year, will drive this official car ahead of its entry in the FIA European Rally Championship and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
As part of the continuous development programme of the Exige R-GT, which has undergone tests in Italy, comes its first participation, albeit as a course car, in a rally event. The Geko Ypres Rally, which takes place in the town of Ypres in West Flanders, will be the fans first opportunity to see the car up close and running, and with the team of Bernardo Sousa and Corrado Mancini on board.
The Lotus International Team will be present in full at Ypres. The race will be the first official event for the team, and represents a useful opportunity to bed itself in.
Ypres is one of the most charming and characteristic rallies in the European series and the IRC. The participation of the Lotus International Rally Team will be used to continue testing and to fine tune the set-up of the car, equipped with a new suspension evolution, Michelin tyres thanks to a new technical partnership with the French company, and of further refined electronics.
Claudio Berro: “Development of the Exige R-GT is going well whilst we are awaiting further clarifications of the GT category, which are due to be made by the FIA at their World Motor Sport Council meeting on June 15. But, until then, we’re looking forward to Ypres which will give us some useful mileage, and show off this spectacular car to the rally world.”
Bernardo Sousa: “I am very pleased to be at the Geko Ypres Rally, even if I’m only driving the Exige as a course car. This presence will certainly help us to start having some stage time comparisons against those who will be our next opponents. During the tests the car has improved continuously and I am discovering its great potential day after day”.