Last year, the official Lotus importer, Niche Cars, dipped its toes in the water and went racing, launching the ‘Lotus Cup Thailand’, a one-make series contested by the lightweight and nimble Elise sports car. That inaugural running of this championship, which joined up with Super Car Thailand's two rounds at Pattaya’s Bira Circuit and the season closer on the streets of Bangsaen, proved to be a big hit with the participating drivers.
So for 2013 it's back for a second year. And it promises to be bigger, better and brighter while it’s set to feature a yet more powerful contender as Lotus’ Exige V6 Cup will soon be joining the championship’s grids. That, along with extra Elise numbers, will eventually boost grids close to the thirty mark.
So Niche Cars is now building on a concept that has already been well accepted. “I think we were very successful with the sale of the cars; of the 15 cars [ordered] we sold 13 [pre season last year], and everybody joined in every race,” Niche Cars’ Marketing Manager with responsibility for the Lotus Cup Thailand, Apichat Vivatsurakit (‘Pete’), said during the launch press conference for the ‘Lotus Cup Thailand 2013’.
The press conference took place on the Niche Cars booth at the ‘4th Super Car and Import Car Show’ at Muang Thong Thani’s Impact Exhibition Center. An eye-catching new Exige V6 took centre stage, with other versions of the Elise on show including one decked out as a ‘Safety Car’.
“After we finished [the 2012 season] we have more customers come to come to buy the racecars to join for next year,” Pete continued. “So we order seven more cars of [the] Elise 1.6 and then we’re going to have a new car, the Exige V6, to join the series this year.”
The Exige V6 Cup is unquestionably a racetrack ‘rocket’. With 345 bhp and 400 Nm extracted from its mid-transverse mounted 3.5-litre V6 engine, which is equipped with a supercharger. In turn that powerplant is mated up to a 6-speed close ratio gearbox. That power is transferred through a stripped-out car that weighs in at just 1,120 kg. It all adds up to 319 hp/tonne.
On its spec sheet, Lotus gives the Exige V6 Cup a 0-100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds while 0-160 km/h is achieved in 7.9 seconds. The car comes complete with all the fittings expected of a race machine: double wishbone suspension all-round, front and rear anti-roll bars, AP Racing 4-pot calipers all-round and cross-drilled, 2-piece discs. It also has 2-way adjustable dampers, an aero-optimised splitter and an FIA homologated roll cage and seat.
However, both prospective drivers and Lotus fans will have to wait a little while longer for this car as the Exige V6 Cup will only take to the tracks later this summer because the factory has to slot in production of the batch allocated to Thailand, as Niche Cars Managing Director Vittawat Chinabarramee (‘Champ’), explained during the launch press conference. “Unfortunately the factory cannot make it on time [but] we will have it in the first race of Bira Circuit,” he said.
That means Pattaya race fans will be the first to see this powerful sports car in race action.