Almost 30 years after the virtually forgotten Talbot Sunbeam Lotus took victory in the World Rally Championship, Lotus is returning to rallying with a version of the new Exige S.
Called the Exige R-GT, it will participate in the newly formed FIA GT category of the FIA asphalt Rally Championship in Monte Carlo, on the Tour de Corse and in San Remo.
For Claudio Berro, the Group Lotus Director of Motorsport, the return to rally has an special meaning; “My motorsport career started in rally/ In fact, I took part in the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus’ Italian Rally championship winning race in San Marino back in 1981, so this is a very nostalgic moment for me. As we unveiled the car in Frankfurt, alongside the original championship-winning Talbot, I had the chance to get back inside. The smell was exactly the same and it brought back many happy memories for me,” he said.
“With the new R-GT rally rules, it’s a very interesting for us to return to the sport. Naturally, our approach will be different to when we won the championship with Talbot three decades ago, but I think our philosophy is the same – we want to compete and ultimately win. Our new rally car, the Exige R-GT is a dream come true for those who are passionate about GT racing – this will be their car.”
The beauty of the Exige R-GT is that you don’t need to be a pro to drive it. The racecar has been developed alongside the road car to allow the technical team to create the perfect race machine without losing its ease of use.
Developing the race version of the Exige in parallel with the road car has allowed the Lotus technicians to make rapid advances in terms of safety and reliability. Claudio Berro commented: “We have learnt a great deal from working with the Evora and creating various race derivatives over the past 18 months, particularly how to adapt a road car for the track and competitive racing. We were able to put this to good use on the Exige project. In my mind, rally is probably the ultimate motorsport because it combines the excitement of track racing with the specialist skills needed for road racing – we really believe it’s the best way to demonstrate the capabilities of our products.”
Powered by the same 3.5 liter V6 engine as the new Exige S road car, significant changes have been made to the gearbox and restrictors on the engine to control power output.
Lotus will initially partner with several customer teams in the rally series following the similar route Lotus used entered IndyCar and return to Le Mans.
Lotus Exige R-GT Rally Car
homologated steel rollcage, bolted and bonded to aluminium chassis
Weight: 1200kg as FIA R-GT regulations
Front and rear underbody protection
WRC-style crew side protections and lexan side windows
Roof cockpit air scoop
Front and rear double wishbones
3-way adjustable front and rear specific dampers
V6 supercharged 3.5L
34mm air restrictors to FIA rules
6-ratios sequential gearbox, two homologated final drives
Specific front and rear disc and bells
Upgraded front and rear calipers
Hydraulic “fly-off” handbrake
Wheels and tires
7’x 7’’ front wheels
205/62 R17 front tires
8’x18’’ rear wheels
225/65 R18 rear tires