If you think what Lotus is trying to do with its road cars is ambitious, you might raise the other eyebrow at its motorsport plans.
Surprisingly, its launch of six new racers in six different race categories, including F1, at the Autosport International did not have the shock and awe – or celebrity - factor of its Paris motor show road car launch, despite a similar number of models being launched.
Instead the firm had an air of confidence about it and offered rational thinking, with each speaker from the various race programmes offering clarity of thought and confidence in their delivery.
Lotus has gone about things differently with its motorsport operation, quietly assembling an experienced team headed by the respected ex-Fiat Group racing chief Claudio Berro and aligning itself with some partners with real pedigree.
There is a clear goal with each racing operation. “With Indycar we want to build our own chassis and engine,” Berro says, “and ultimately win the Indy 500.” With GT racing, it is about showcasing Lotus “as a technological force against Ferrari, Porsche and Corvette, like we did with Colin Chapman in the past”.
The firm is gearing up for an assault on Le Mans this year with the successful Jetalliance race team and its Evora GT4 racer, already a winner, which will take on the Dubai 24 Hours today with Nigel Mansell’s sons Greg and Leo behind the wheel.
While it is open to debate just how competitive Lotus can be in Indycar and as it advances its GT programme, the same fate is unlikely to be suffered by its single seater operations.
Its GP2 and GP3 teams will be run by ART Grand Prix, one of the most successful GP2 teams ever, having helped launch the careers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg among others. And its F1 team, formerly known as Renault and competing next year as Lotus Renault GP, scored several podiums in 2010. “We will start winning in F1 as soon as possible,” said Berro, “we can win; we took podiums last year and look even stronger for 2011.”
On paper, it looks an impossible task, managing resources across so many championships for such a fast expanding company with little or no real major racing pedigree in decades. But Lotus is convinced it can pull it off – and with the quietly confident and assured Berro pulling the strings, I’ll be one of many parties watching with interest.
“The main focus is on all projects,” says Berro, “everything is important. We are clear with what we want to do with every project and we know our targets for each.”
“There is a passion for Lotus and the Lotus name in motorsport around the world. For a small manufacturer such as Lotus, motorsport is the best platform to showcase your potential and prove yourself next to the competition.”