The priority was on reliability over performance, but unfortunately despite showing a lot of promise in the opening special space, the car was not able to complete the rally due to an electronics issue.
In the first special stage the car ran well and lapped seventh overall, but in the second special stage their emerged a problem with the internal electronics connection which affected all the systems and its laptime, finishing tenth. In the third and final stage an electronics glitch caused the gearbox to fail, the wheels to lock, and Sousa and co-driver Corrado Mancini to career into the wall at slow speed.
The Lotus International Team is focused on resolving this electronics issue, and Bernardo’s next date with the car will be an extensive four-day test in Italy at the end of the month to validate all systems.
Bernardo Sousa: “I’m disappointed because I really wanted to finish the rally, but we can take heart that the potential is clearly there. We crashed out due to a failure, which is frustrating, but not uncommon when you debut an all-new car. On Special Stage 3, when I braked the gearbox wouldn’t downshift, the wheels locked, and we didn’t make it through the corner. We crashed at about 40km/h. The first stage was promising, though, particularly as there were lots of chicanes and we don’t have power steering. I know that on proper stages we can be a lot faster. I’m very confident this car can compete at a high level. Despite the electronics glitches, the parts are high quality and we will fix this one problem.”
Claudio Berro, director of Lotus Racing: “A memorable week for Lotus Racing, with success in the single-seater categories and our debut in the European Rally Championship. We hoped the Exige R-GT would complete the course in Madeira, but it was the car’s first taste of competition and these things rarely go smoothly. The pace is there, we just have to make the car 100 percent reliable, so we’re looking forward to a big test at the end of August.”