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GP Week : Issue 148
Lotus are waiting to hear the verdict of the FIA’s inspection of the Exige S car, the first model to be submitted for international homologation in the R-GT class. The prototype car was tested for two days at the end of March on roads close to San Remo by Bernardo Sousa and European champion Luca Rossetti, in the hope it will be ready to run at the Mille Miglia Rally (19-21 April). At the end of the test Portuguese driver Sousa was very enthusiastic about the project.: “The car is really enjoyable to drive, it has a six-speed gearbox with a sequential paddle shift gearbox. Assuming the FIA inspection is successful there is still a lot of work to do before it is ready to rally. The car has a lot of potential and I am really optimistic about its future.” Cars in Group R-GT must be two-wheel-drive, with completely standard engines: “Obviously the two-wheel-drive demand a quite different style of driving, especially for someone like me who has driven four- wheel-drive Super 2000 cars for the last three or so years. The engine is powerful – the car is obviously very good on fast sections but more spectacular on slower corners! It will be interesting to see how it compares with the Porsche sports cars, allowed in certain countries. They are heavier, and the Lotus should be better balanced.” No definite decision has been taken as to whether the car will be rally-ready in time for Mille Miglia, but Lotus confirm that an entry on this historic event continues to be the plan. DMACK IN THE NEWS WRC >>> news Lotus awaits R-GT Homologation Jari Ketomaa raised eyebrows in Portugal when he appeared with his loudly liveried DMack- sponsored Fiesta WRC sporting Michelin tyres, on which the name of the tyre supplier did not appear in the usual bold fashion (inset pic, right). He explained that this was all part of DMack’s plan for the future development of the tyres by discovering the tricks of the opposition from the inside! Ketomaa had a difficult event with misfiring and set-up troubles, but eventually finished 10th over-all. The opportunity of driving a World Rally Car was a major opportunity for the 32 year-old Finnish driver to establish his reputation in the face of opposition from the many new and younger World Rally Car drivers. On the other side of the world, the Asia-Pacific Proton team were running DMack tyres for the first time and had a difficult time. Proton driver PG Andersson (right) was fastest on the opening stage but then punctured on Stage 2 and, despite making ten fastest APRC times was unable to make up time on the new rally leader, Chris Atkinson. Atkinson’s car sported the livery of MRF, the Indian tyre company originally called ‘Madras Rubber Factory’, and used a new generation of MRF tyres for this event, suitable for the lighter weight of their current S2000 cars. The APRC Proton and Skoda team cars took the top four positions in the event against the local Group N championship drivers. 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: