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Top three times and top 10 finish for Australian debut of Lotus 2-Eleven.
The Lotus 2-Eleven has shown its speed by joining the exclusive eight-minute club at the 2007 Mt Buller Sprint. Only 17 cars have recorded a sub-nine minute run in the event's five year history, and the Lotus 2-Eleven cracked an 8m:59s on only its second dry run.
The three-day Mt Buller Sprint started in extremely trying conditions, with the first two days held in rain and fog allowing just two of the planned six special stages to run.
With almost half of the 95 car field being all-wheel drive turbos, the Lotus 2-Eleven driven by Dean Evans with navigator Samantha Stevens used its bespoke adjustable traction control to compensate.
"As bad as the conditions were, the rain was a great test for the traction control system," explained Evans. "I started on maximum T/C, but every few kays I was dialling it out to where I could simply stamp on it exiting a corner. We may have had only two-wheel drive, but getting power down was never an issue.
The launch control was equally brilliant: in the wet or dry it catapulted off the line."
Enduring very wet, foggy and slippery conditions, 17 cars retired by the end of day two, including two-time winner Jim Richards who withdrew his two-wheel drive Porsche due to the poor weather conditions.
Day three was a turn-around, with sunshine and perfect conditions allowing the 2-Eleven to shine for the day's four stages.
It didn't take long. On the day's first stage, Evans set the fourth fastest time with a 9m:04s, leading the Subaru STi Spec Cs of Tony Longhurst and Grant Denyer.
On the next stage, the Lotus went five seconds faster to record an 8m:59s run, a stunning third-fastest outright.
"By the time I pulled fourth gear after 300 metres, I was thinking 'this is how the quick cars feel!" enthused Evans. "Gradually turning down the traction control throughout the run, on the final corner there was a stream of water running across the road so I turned it back to full traction control, we hit the water under power and started to slide but the computer chips limited the slip and just put the power down. The key was having the confidence in the traction control to floor it from every corner. Now I'd hate to drive a car without it."
At the lunchtime service break, while others were changing tyres to softer compounds and setting suspension, the 2-Eleven was cleaned, polished but remained mechanically untouched from factory trim, including the standard Yokohama Advan tyres, factory-suggested Ohlins shock absorber and sway bar settings and standard Pagid brake pads. It even ran a minimum of half a tank of fuel the entire weekend.
"We wanted to show how quick the 2-Eleven is straight out of the box," explained Lotus Cars Australia Sales and Marketing Manager Jonathan Stretton. "Anyone can purchase a 2-Eleven through our dealer network and we've proved it can run in events like this and be highly competitive."
Into the afternoon's final two stages, Evans' consistency showed with another 8:59 and on the final run, the clock stopped at an 8m:54.66, a time that would have been fastest outright on the first Mt Buller event.
Based solely on dry runs, it would have finished an incredible fifth outright on debut. Including the two wet stages, the Lotus 2-Eleven placed ninth outright in the 2007 Mt Buller Sprint.
Mr Stretton added: "We're extremely proud of Dean and Samantha being able to showcase the 2-Eleven's potential. They did an exemplary job, especially given the circumstances, and to perform this well without changing the car in any way is testament to both the crew who drove the 2-Eleven and the Lotus Sport team in the UK who built it."
At just 745kg, the 2-Eleven's supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder offers 188kW and 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 249km/h.
The recommended retail price of the Lotus 2-Eleven is $127,500 plus statutory government charges, sold through the Lotus Cars Australia authorised dealer network.
Within 24 hours of posting, the video of the Lotus 2-Eleven's run at the Mt Buller Sprint was the number one Most Viewed, Top Rated and Top Favourites in the Autos & Vehicles categories on YouTube Australia. The video can be viewed at:
Lotus Cars Australia would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family and friends of navigator Paul Flintoft who was tragically killed during day one of the Mt Buller event, and wishes driver David Reynolds a full and speedy recovery.
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