The new GT4 version of the Lotus 2-Eleven track car made its competition debut in Dubai last week with a strong run marred by a mid-race gearbox failure. The car was campaigned by the Empire Motorsports team from Malaysia that took it easy in qualifying for a 36th starting position, but then worked their way up to 9th overall after 18 hours of racing. Unfortunately, the sequential gearbox packed it in at that point. The team consisting mostly of automotive technology students spent the next three hours replacing the gearbox, dropping the car to 50th overall. Over the final three hours, the drivers managed to work their way back up to 44th overall out of 59 finishing cars.
2-Eleven GT4 Supersport makes strong endurance debut
2-Eleven takes on Dubai 24 hour
The Lotus 2-Eleven GT4 Supersport made a strong endurance debut at the Dubai International 24 hour race last weekend.
Malaysian based Empire Motorsports ran the 2-Eleven GT4, with regular drivers Denis Lian and James Mitchell joined for this race by Torro Rosso F1 test driver Karun Chandhok. The majority of the mechanics in the up and coming Malaysian team are students studying automotive technology at The Otomotif College (TOC). The race team is part of Empire Motorsports' mission to develop a stronger foundation for the Asian motorsports industry.
The car qualified 36th overall for the race after the team elected not to stress the car unnecessarily immediately prior to such a long event. Within a few hours of the start the car had moved up to second in class and continued to climb through the overall rankings. At three quarters distance the car was running in a very creditable 9th overall and 2nd in class.
Sadly after 18 hours of hard racing, a failure of the special purpose sequential racing gearbox resulted in a costly 3 hour gearbox change, dropping the 2-Eleven GT4 down to 10th in class and 50th overall. The drivers then rewarded the team's efforts with spirited progress and regained a number of positions completing the race 8th in class and 44th overall out of 59 finishers.
Mike Kimberley CEO of Group Lotus plc commented, "Lotus is proud to have continued to develop our relationship with Empire Motorsports starting from the Merdeka Millennium 12 hour race at Sepang, Malaysia. Empire Motorsports have now demonstrated that the 2-Eleven GT4 also makes for an exceptionally competitive and cost effective endurance race car capable of taking on much larger and more expensive cars in Motorsport events."
Ashraff Dewal, Team Principal of Empire Motorsports, expressed delight with the pace of the 2-Eleven GT4 and the exceptionally low rate at which it consumed tyres and brake pads compared with the other participating racecars. Commenting "I am very proud that a young team like Empire Motorsports can work so closely with such an established marque as Lotus to develop a new endurance race car specification and I look forward to continuing the relationship in the future."
Chris Arnold, Head of Lotus Sport, said "The 2-Eleven provides a platform to create a competitive, versatile race package that offers great thrills and performance". Adding "the 2-Eleven has been exceptionally well received and as well as driving the cars on the road, some owners have used 2-Eleven's of various specification in many exciting and varied events from track days, rallies, hillclimbs, sprint races and international GT races. This race result shows that endurance racing must now be added to the 2-Eleven's impressive range of capabilities".