Click above for a high-res gallery of the Lotus Exige GT3.

Aussie racing fans are in for a treat during the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend, where the updated Lotus Exige GT3 will make its official debut. The revised racer is still packing the same supercharged 1.8-liter mill from the road-going Exige S, but it's been tweaked to created almost 350 hp and 224 lb.-ft. of torque (we're guessing through the use of a liquid-to-air intercooler and around 16 pounds of boost heaved into the built motor). Additionally, Lotus has revised the aero bits to increase downforce and reduce drag through the use of a lengthened nose (3 cm), a widened track (10 cm) and a rear section stretched by some 8 cm. Angelo Lazaris will be piloting the GT3 this weekend during the third round of the GT Championship.

Lotus' full press release is posted after the jump and you can check out the gallery of the Lotus Exige GT3 concept below.

Related GalleryLotus Exige GT3

Related GalleryLotus Exige GT3 concept


PRESS RELEASE

Newer, Faster Lotus Exige GT3 Ready For F1

Updates and extra speed for debut of Lotus Exige GT3 this weekend.

It's back and it looks better than ever. The Lotus Exige GT3 of Angelo Lazaris has been updated in readiness for an attack on the 2008 GT Championship this weekend at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Based on the European race car that competed in the FIA GT3 category, this is the world's fastest Lotus, fitted with extreme aerodynamic aids and a highly developed 1.8-litre engine based on the same unit in the Exige S road car.

Lazaris competed in selected rounds of the 2006 GT Championship, and has updated the car from 2006 to 2007 specification, improving two key areas to make it more competitive.

"We wanted to give it a freshen-up over the off season", explained Lazaris, "so we used the opportunity to update to the 2007 spec and the performance improvements it offers. We've been doing some 20 hour days and the guys have put in a lot of effort just to get it to the F1 support race this weekend."

Providing some assistance over the weekend will be Russel Gibbons from Lotus Sport UK. Russel was instrumental in the Lotus Exige GT3's success in the 2006 British GT championship and will bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the new team. Russel will be providing assistance to team manager Arthur Magaitis and is also expected to help guide the team with car setup and track tuning.

Lotus Sport UK developed the car following its victory in the 2006 British GT3 Manufacturers Championship. Two major changes were necessary to keep the car competitive for the 2007 season: the reduction of high speed drag, and achieving more power than the 261kW at 7000rpm and 305Nm at 6000rpm from the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine.

Aerodynamic drag has a huge impact on speed. When a car is running at 320km/h, improving its drag coefficient by just 0.007Cd adds 1.6km/h to its speed.

The 2006 race car was based on a road-going Exige with widened wheel arches, but the 2007 body would start with a new design.

It was necessary to increase the frontal area to accommodate the wider track, however the aerodynamic effect was reduced by revising the front radiator inlet and outlet areas, and reducing the cross-sectional areas of both, along with extending the nose forward by approximately 3cm.

Major design changes are more evident on the rear, with the bodywork extending 8cm rearward, widening 10cm and losing almost 3cm in height at the rear deck. The body style also moved to a more conventional 'fastback' design. All the body parts were produced in lightweight ZPREG carbon fibre using an innovative mould-making process that features room temperature curing rather than an oven.

The GT3's rear deck lid has the effect of a sheered-off tail, which reduces aerodynamic wake. Integral rear wheel arch vents have been incorporated into the rear clam.

Another significant change to the body was a result of a mechanical change. The roof scoop that fed cooling air to the engine's intercooler on the 2006 model was eliminated for 2007, which allows for a cleaner, smoother airflow over the car and rear clamshell. This resulted from a change to a water-to-air intercooler, from the previous air-to-air.

Lotus Engineering's work on the 1.8-litre VVTL-I four-cylinder Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine has been pushing the boundaries of just what is attainable from a production road car engine. It has evolved from 141kW, to 188kW as fitted to the road registerable (UK) Lotus 2-Eleven, now peaking at a massive 261kW, in 2007 GT3 specification - or an increase of 85 percent.

That's an 89 percent increase over base specification, and a colossal 148kW per-litre. In comparison a Porsche 997 GT3 generates 83kW/litre and the Aston Martin DBRS9 achieves 62kW/litre in race trim. A Holden Commodore SS road car produces just 45kW/litre.

This will be the second season for aspiring driver Angelo Lazaris as he competes against the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. His 2007-spec Exige GT3 will make its debut in this weekend's round three of the GT Championship, supporting the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.