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GP Week : Issue 160
RALLY >>> FEATURE Bernardo Sousa on driving the Lotus Exige S (R-GT) car Although we were only driving as zero car in Ypres it was already a very good test. It was our first chance to run the car on long stages because in testing you always only have short stretches of roads which you have to string together, always with the same sort of corners. Here in Ypres we have been able to acquire a lot of information, and discover what happens in unexpected situations, like when we suddenly find a lot of unexpected mud on the road where other drivers have been cutting the corners. And also for the fans it was good because there is a lot of interest in this car from people wanting to see the comeback of Lotus. And of course not only to see but to HEAR the car. The sound of the compressor engine is like music to my ears. You can notice the car from a long distance, it is pure music that rallying hasn’t heard since the days of the Lancia 037. The car is very nice to drive, a big difference from the 4x4 rally cars I have been used to in the past five years, the S2000 and Mitsubishi before that. It is a lot of fun, and of course going sideways like they used to do in the old times, pretending we were driving like the late Henri Toivonen used to do in his Sunbeam Lotus! The car looks superb in its imitation John Player Special colours (black and gold, like the old Lotus F1 cars). Though of course we don't have the tobacco sponsor because it is forbidden, but we still have the emblematic brand name of Lotus. All in the interest of the marketing point of view which brings a lot of interest for all the Lotus road cars. Probably the most interesting technical thing is the 3.5 litre V6 compressor engine and also the 6-speed sequential gearbox with paddle-shift. The car has huge brakes and good airflow to the brakes so we don't expect to have so much problems with them. Regarding plans for the debut of the car on my home event in Madeira (European championship, 26-28 July), that is one of our plans but we must have the proper technical specification; that is the most important thing. Then when we are sure that we have a competitive car, we can do a real rally! 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: