FORMULA ONE – JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
Lotus Renault GP displayed some promising performance in Japan, which translated into two Championship points on Sunday.
Having been out of contention two weeks ago in Singapore, the team bounced back at Suzuka by getting both cars in the top ten in qualifying. Despite taking a bite out of the barriers on Saturday morning, Bruno Senna managed to claim P9 while team-mate Vitaly Petrov took P10..
Both drivers started on the medium compound tyre, while the other cars around them were on softs. The strategy meant the LRGP drivers had searing pace in the final quarter of the race, but for the start they were at a disadvantage. Petrov switched from medium rubber to soft on lap 39, his final pitstop, and was then unleashed to pass multiple cars and finish in ninth place. Senna suffered from traffic and tyre degradation and finished 16th.
The 15th round of the 2011 season represents Vitaly’s seventh points finish. He is now ninth in the Drivers’ Championship behind Michael Schumacher: “Ultimately our target was to finish in front of Force India and this is what we achieved. When I put on the soft tyres at the end of the race I felt so much grip; I smiled and then pushed a lot! Then I overtook I don’t know how many cars. It’s a pity Sergio [Perez] was just too far ahead. Now we go to Korea looking for another top ten finish.”
Bruno out-qualified his team-mate for the third time in four races, but was unable to convert this promise into points: “From my perspective, it was a disappointing race having started in such a promising position. I encountered lots of traffic problems and my tyres were degrading quite fast. We certainly looked stronger over three days here than we did in Singapore. Hopefully I will be back in the points in Korea.”
Lotus Renault GP Team Principal Eric Boullier was encouraged by the R33’s pace in clean air: “First and foremost it’s good to be back in the points. We had a different strategy to most teams and it worked reasonably well for Vitaly, but not so well for Bruno who struggled with a lot of traffic. Unfortunately the Safety Car did not help us either, but at least we have two more points to help us hold off the threat of Force India in the Constructors’ Championship. Finally, on behalf of the whole team I would like to offer my congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his second World Championship win.”
Group Lotus Motorsport Director, Claudio Berro, is focused on the fight in the Constructors’ Championship: “A good effort from Vitaly, he picked up two points which will help the team in its goal to remain fifth in the championship. Lotus Renault GP now has 72 points, a fairly comfortable margin over Force India with 48. Ideally we want both cars to finish in the top ten at each race and, encouragingly, our drivers showed the pace is there in qualifying. We hope to edge further ahead next weekend in Korea, to which the team turns its attentions immediately.”
BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP – SILVERSTONE
Lotus Sport UK took its second GT4 victory on the trot on Saturday at Silverstone’s two hour sportscar enduro, the final round of the 2011 British GT Championship.
In qualifying, Chris Holmes and Phil Glew put the car on pole for the second race in succession, ahead of Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta’s Dan Denis and David McDonald. Glew’s lap of 2m 13.478s was quick enough to put the Evora 23rd overall on the 30 car grid, despite some of the GT3 competitors passing him on the straight and then baulking him in the corners, where the Evora enjoys an advantage. The No.49 Lotus of Leyton Clarke and Freddy Nordstrom lined up fifth out of the seven GT4 starters.
Glew led the class from the start ahead of Denis’ Ginetta, with the pair battling hard in the early stages before the Evora started to establish a gap. The lead was maintained after the mid-race handover to team-mate Holmes, and victory proved comfortable after the No.50 Ginetta was given a drive-thru and slipped to third.
After 52 laps, the No.48 Evora won a lap ahead of ABG Motorsport KTM’s Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton, who claimed the GT4 championship honours. Clarke and Nordstrom came home sixth.
“We had a great battle with the No.50 Ginetta at the start,” Glew said. “I just couldn’t shake it off no matter what I did. All of a sudden the race came to us; we seemed to manage the tyres better, pulled a bit of a gap, which built up a 30 second lead and the rest is history.”
Team manager Gary Ayles said: “Overall it was a great weekend for us although we suffered a few minor niggles in free practice we made up for this later. In the race, we had to work for it but by the end of his stint Phil had broken the back on the Ginetta and established a strong advantage. Chris then got in and did an incredible job. He’d had so little time in the car up to that point, I thought his performance was absolutely top draw. The cars ran faultlessly during the race - it was a fantastic end to the season.”
Group Lotus Motorsport Director Claudio Berro said: “The progress this team has made this year is very pleasing and we’re proud of taking our second consecutive victory. The Evora GT4 had proved an exceptional racing car, and I would like to thank the drivers and the team for their brilliant efforts.
BLANCPAIN ENDURANCE SERIES
Silverstone also played to host to final round of the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series on Sunday and, after a season long battle between the top contenders and the Evora GT4 of Lotus Sport Italia (run by Gianni Giudici), it came down to the final race to decide the championship honors
The infamous trio of drivers - Greg and Leo Mansell alongside Edoardo Pisocopo – made the perfect start in the Evora GT4 by clinching pole position, however due to the points situation Lotus Sport Italia still needed a race win and a DNF for fellow championship contenders RJN Motorsport for the team to secure the title in the three hour endurance race.
Following a great team performance the honour was left to Greg Mansell to bring the Evora GT4 over the finish line taking first place in the GT4 category but narrowly missing out on the Championship title as RJN Motorsport finished albeit three laps down.
‘We can be very proud this weekend finishing both the British GT Championship and Blancpain series with a win, it bodes well for 2012” said Group Lotus Motorsport Director Claudio Berro.
The next outing for the Evora GT4 will be this weekend (15th 16th October) as Zandvoort plays host to the final round of the GT4 European Cup where several Evora GT4 race cars will be in action.