Auto blogSun, 17 Mar 2013 18:01:00 EST
A pre-season full of talking points was swapped for a brand-new set of talking points after the running of the opening grand prix of the 2013 Formula One season. The consistency of the regulations from last year to this year and the triplicate dominance of Infiniti Red Bull Racing meant that no one would have been that surprised if the relative order of things remained the same. But teams found so many ways to switch things up that, in typical pre-season fashion, no one was ready to make any bets on in-season performance, and a couple of surprising players suffered the ignominy of getting it really wrong: McLaren knew it was in trouble from the very first test, while Williams drivers applauded their car as the best in years, only to have Pastor Maldonado call it "undriveable" on the very first day of practice in Melbourne.
And then there were those Pirellis, the Italian company talking up the fact that its super soft tires would only go off so quickly that it would force teams to pit at least twice during the race.
Even then, no one could have seen the first round of pit stops beginning on Lap 5.
Lotus is recalling 451 examples of the Elise and Exige from the 2007 and 2008 model years. The cars in question, built from December 1, 2006 to October 31, 2007 could be affected by an oil cooler line that detaches from its fitting. If the line comes loose it could release oil onto the engine and possibly start a fire, or onto a tire and potentially cause a crash.
A bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates the recall is expected to begin on March 4. Notified owners can take their cars to their dealers for repairs to the lateral oil cooler hose and hose fittings. You'll find the full release from the NHTSA below with more information.
Lotus has broken the seal on the 2013 Formula One season, launching the E21 car at its factory in Enstone. With the regulations this year quite similar to those of last year, there are no dramatic changes in form compared to the E20. After some teams lobbied to be able to cover the stepped nose with a "vanity panel," Lotus retained the configuration, the team's technical director saying that the panel would add more weight and didn't make sense to put on the car unless it also added performance.
Beyond that, the E21 is said to be an comprehensive advance in its details - the suspension gets a new layout, the Coanda exhaust and the passive double DRS system are evolutions from last year, the front wing is "a continuation of concepts" from 2009.
After securing fourth in the Constructor's Championship last year, this is the chassis that drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean will use to try and move the team up a place, which would mean beating one of the big three teams over the course of the season. The quietly and impressively consistent Räikkönen managed third in the Driver's Championship, and we're sure he wouldn't mind a move up in the standings, either.
Lotus has pulled off the wraps on two new versions of the Exige: the V6 Cup and the V6 Cup R. Based on the Exige S, the V6 Cup is built to be a dual-purpose street and track machine. The 0-60 dash should take just under 3.8 seconds thanks to a full 345 horsepower from a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 engine. Weighing in at 2,380 pounds, the V6 Cup should be an absolute riot to drive, and with a full FIA-approved roll cage, fire extinguisher and six-point race harnesses on board, it's plenty safe, too. Two-way adjustable dampers are standard, as are AP Racing four-piston calipers on all four corners. More importantly, drivers can expect to find the Lotus Dynamic Performance Management system in the cockpit, complete with Touring, Sport and DPM Off modes.
The V6 Cup R, meanwhile, is both lighter and offers more horsepower than the standard V6 Cup. The same blown V6 dishes out 366 horsepower in R trim, and the whole contraption tips the scales at 2,292 pounds. Of course, the same spate of race hardware is stock, minus the DPM system. A lightweight battery, track-spec tow loops and quick-release engine cover help separate the Cup R from its more civil sibling, as do performance brake pads and better oil and water cooling systems.
Check out the brief press release below for more information. Both of the new models are headed for a debut at the 2013 Autosport International Show.
Another month, another car pack for Forza Horizon. This time it's the Recaro Car Pack featuring a motley gang of cars and trucks: the 1983 GMC Vandura G-1500, 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R, 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV, 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR, 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition and 2012 Lotus Exige S.
It'll be up for download on Xbox Live on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 for 400 MS Points. As usual, if you have the Forza Horizon Season Pass you can get them all free, and Season Pass holders will also get a bonus car that's not pictured: the 2009 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster.
The Pagani is everything opposite to that Vandura, but while you might not ever win anything with the van, you can always use the back of it as a place to give out free hugs. Check out the video and press release below for more details.
Lotus has just announced a new Evora 'Sports Racer' model that is, well, frankly not much more sporty or racy than the standard Evora or Evora S. Instead, the British company calls the Sports Racer a "visually enhanced and optimized version" of both the Evora and supercharged Evora S. To unpack that a little: The new trim will get a new set of unique exterior colors and a revised interior treatment, and it's fully decked out with options.
The 'Sports Racer' will be available in the buyer's choice of Carbon Grey, Nightfall Blue and the Ardent Red that you see in the image above (the only image we've seen of the car so far). Gloss black accents set the model apart and can be seen on the roof, forged wheels, mirrors and rear badges. Inside, one may choose between black-leather sports seats with red piping and stitching, or a Venom Red leather interior with black piping and stitching. How naughty.
In terms of tech, the 'Sports Racer' gets Lotus' Sports Pack and its remapped throttle response, higher redline, more powerful cross-drilled brakes and a more aggressively programmed Dynamic Performance Management system. The stereo system is also upgraded from the basic Evora, with a DVD player and seven-inch touchscreen display thrown in for good measure.
More details have come out about the legal suit and countersuit being contested between Lotus cars owner DRB-Hicom and former CEO of Lotus Dany Bahar. Bahar was brought in by Malaysian car company Proton in 2009 to turn Lotus around, and events during his tenure have made just about everyone wonder "What's going on?" That's not unusual - it can take a minute to figure things out when a new leader takes everything in a new direction - but in this case the clouds didn't clear quickly enough.
When the Malaysian government sold Proton to Malaysian auto supplier DRB-Hicom earlier this year, a forensic accounting team from Ernst & Young and The Rothschild Group started going over the books. Not long after, Bahar was suspended in June from his position and then fired. In his countersuit against DRB-Hicom, claims of lavish spending began to surface. Then the stories and leaks and rumors really began, the UK's Financial Mail reporting on more than one million pounds spent on private flights and home renovations, the New Zealand Herald talking about other executives sacked so that DRB could rearrange a 270-million-pound bank loan to Lotus, and rumors on forums about Bahar flying from his home in Norfolk to Hethel HQ and spending 30,000 pounds on motorsports books for his office.
In the latest Bloomberg report it is said that DRB-Hicom seeks 2.5 million pounds ($4 million US) from Bahar "for unauthorized expenses and overpaid salary and bonuses," including the purported expense of 3,000 pounds on watches for company managers. DRB-Hicom also says Bahar made damaging statements to the media, on top of breaching his contractual duties. Bahar's countersuit seeks $10.6 million from DRB-Hicom.
Brief and disappointing is this report from Autocar on the status of the Lotus Esprit: it is finally ready and sitting at the light, but the light might not go green for a long time. The good news is that from being a concept two years ago at the Paris Motor Show, the aluminum and carbon fiber revival coupe is "purportedly almost finished." It is powered by a twin-turbo, 5.0-liter V8 with something like 650 horsepower, boosted by a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and shifting through a seven-speed paddleshift transmission. Even with all that, the UK price is said to be around that of a Porsche 911 4S Cabriolet, and the car only needs "signing off and minor tweaking."
The bad news is that former company owner Proton couldn't stay independent long enough to see through the company's ambitious five-concept-car assault - led by then-CEO Dany Bahar who was hired explicitly to lead such a campaign - and was swallowed up by Malaysian auto supplier DRB-Hicom. For a brief spell Lotus had to shut down production for lack of funds. Then the new owner cleaned house, sweeping out Bahar and, according to the Financial Times just one month ago, the Esprit and every other concept with it. Just after the FT piece came out, Lotus denied the Esprit had been canceled. Still, according to Autocar, the management whirlpool is keeping the Esprit "far from becoming a production reality."
If we're honest with ourselves, we'll keep in mind that the Esprit has been slipping into and out of a terminal ether for what seems like decades. None of us knows what is going on inside Hethel HQ, but the fact that there really is a lightweight, twin-turbo, 650-hp Lotus Esprit finally ready to be produced has to be, in spite of all else, very good news.
EVO has come out with another gotta-watch-it video, throwing its 2012 Car of the Year contestants around the UK's 1.5-mile Blyton Park track. It's actually a 15-minute teaser for the full-length DVD detailing the magazine's Car of the Year selection, but the tease is worth every penny free second.
Tiff Needell and sports car racer Richard Meaden handle the wheel duties, the two driving five pairs of sports cars: Lotus Exige S vs. Porsche Boxster S, Morgan Three-Wheeler vs. Toyota GT86, BMW M135i vs. Porsche 911, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series vs. Alpina B3 GT3, the marquee event pits the McLaren MP4-12C vs. the Pagani Huayra. After a head-to-head lap with commentary during drifts, Meaden takes each car out to set a representative lap time.
You'll find the verdicts, lots of tire smoke, and lines like "Anything you can do sideways I can do sideways" in the video below.
Even before Red Bull Racing became a record-breaking three-time Constructor's Champion in Formula One, it has dominated conversations both as a team and as an energy drink. After seven years of "Red Bull this" and "Red Bull that," Coca-Cola is reportedly ready to jump into the F1 fray with its Sweden-based energy drink Burn.
Rumors had placed Coca-Cola's entry with McLaren F1, but it's actually Lotus that has secured the deal. We have no idea what the sponsorship will look like, but the website for Burn says that "We [intend] to foster that creativity by incorporating art and music in a way that will break the conventions of traditional F1 sponsorship," Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier adding "We are excited to partner with burn to build a new and innovative model for sponsorships that will combine experiences, content creation and social media..."
Since most - including this writer - have no idea what Burn is, we've included a couple of Burn commercial spots to help get us up to speed, which you'll find below. The 2012 season hasn't even ended, and we're already looking forward to 2013...