Sports recruiting keeps starting at younger and younger ages. While professional-league scouts used to hit the college games, these days they're scoping out the high school fields. And not just for graduating seniors, either. That's certainly the case (minus the school teams) in professional motorsports, where the drivers are getting younger and younger, too.

These days, major teams are securing future talents at earlier stages than ever, with many F1 constructors – like Renault, Red Bull and Ferrari – operating their own (often extensive) young driver development programs. But while most look to feeder series like Formula BMW or GP2, Lotus has just staked its claim at an even earlier stage with its new karting program.

In partnership with Jefra Racing of Treviso, Italy, the Lotus Racing Karts program is the first factory-backed team in the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship – a common starting point for aspiring young racers. For the 2012 season it will field two karts – a Colin C30 and a Jimmy C32 – in the KF and KZ categories, and will come complete (as pictured above) with the trademark JPS-inspired black and gold livery as featured on the Lotus Renault GP cars and the latest special edition Evora.

The karting program is just the latest – and earliest – step in the rapidly expanding Lotus motorsport division that has already taken Hethel into such series as Formula One, GP2, GP3, IndyCar and various classes of GT racing. Details in the press release after the jump.
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Group Lotus Goes Grassroots

With an official entry into the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship 2012, Group Lotus is determined to discover new talent.

With the move into karting Group Lotus becomes the first car manufacturer to have a presence at the entry level of motorsport and provides a very special opportunity for early talent spotting. Some of today's most famous and successful motorsport personalities cut their teeth in karting – the newly crowned FIA F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel is the perfect example of the benefits of early driver development as are his peers, fellow former World Champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

But Lotus isn't just interested in spotting the driving talent of the future, the potential to work with young people showing an aptitude for design and engineering is recognised as a very special opportunity for Lotus.

Competing under the 'Lotus Racing Karts' banner and forming part of the Lotus Motorsport division, Lotus Racing Karts will field a factory backed team, operated by Jefra Racing out of its headquarters near Treviso, Italy. With a formidable racing pedigree spanning over 40 years, Jefra Racing has competed in many classes of motorsport. Lotus hopes that this invaluable experience teamed with leadership from Team Manager Franc Jerancic will form the basis of a truly competitive team.

And Franc Jerancic is the man to impress – talent spotted and recruited by him will have all the latest homologated material at their disposal, including two new chassis models 'Colin C30' and 'Jimmy C32' giving the Lotus Racing Karts team the edge as they take on the CIK-FIA international karting events for KF and KZ categories and the World Karting Championship for KF1 category.

The production of karts and components is licensed by Group Lotus to Wildkart, specialists in aeronautics precision engineering since 1996 and manufacturer of karts since 2002. Today, Wildcart is regarded as an authority in kart chassis and components, providing services and solutions to many karting suppliers and brands. The fit with Group Lotus is enhanced by the mutual commitment to innovation, technology and development.

"Our entry into karting is exciting on many levels" comments Miodrag Kotur, Director of Operations for Lotus Motorsport. "Not only are we nurturing new talent and widening our motorsport programme, but we also have an opportunity to join forces with two world-class specialists. It is exciting to see Lotus Motorsport grow in such an authentic, fresh and exhilarating way"

Lotus Racing Karts will unveil their 2012 karts at the annual AUTOSPORT International event on the 14th January 2012 at NEC - Birmingham, UK.

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