On the shake down test we don’t know what the car is going to do; will it break first time, what bits are going to fall off and which bits first? It’s always a bit of a trial and error programme.
The car was designed for Le Mans and in fact, took part in the Le Mans race three years ago. Two cars were built at huge expense by Lotus; one car was eventually sold to an American, the other car Lotus chose to retain. We now have that car; it is the only one of its kind actually racing and we have enough spares to build a second car.
Having originally been designed to compete at Le Mans, there are certain restrictions. For example the power is restricted with its class, the down-force is restricted, So, all those things need to be addressed for the car to compete in the higher category. We will be competing against very serious GT 3 cars. The Lotus GT car has never been at that top end before. But now we can take the basic Le Mans car, add the down force that we need and give it the extra power that we need to be at the front, and I think that we can do that fairly quickly.
In this category, of which there about three major championships, it’s just power-to-weight ratio. You must state at the beginning what weight you are running at so you mustn’t drop below that weight and what power you are running at. But, in terms of aero design, suspension design, and so on its anything goes, which is wonderful because we can all compete with each other in engineering, which is what this is all about, engineering.
It is always good to have two drivers because you can then discuss points if you are not terribly sure, does it under steer, does it over steer, are the brakes balanced, is the traction control on properly, are running at the right sort of rev limit, lots of things to discuss and agree. We also have the ability to look at a ‘trace’ which is a computer screen that shows the lines we take, the revs we are using, the amount of energy going to the brakes, all of that.
We have just done our first outing with this so called shake down and once the temperatures were achieved, it’s running very reliably, and it seems to be quite quick! So, we are absolutely delighted. We now know the car is inherently a really good car. And, I think that with the upgrades we intend to apply over the next few weeks it will be a contender at the front.
Obviously we will take with us the experience gained today and build on that. And, hopefully that day plus perhaps one other will be sufficient for us to have the car properly evaluated before our first race.