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For the first two races of the 2012 Formula 1 season, Team Lotus has received a mixed bag of results. Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen finished both races in the points despite mediocre qualifying. Meanwhile, GP2 champion Romain Grosjean displayed rapid pace during qualifying but suffered a DNF for both races.
Such is the mix of fortunes in motorsports. A long and illustrious name in Formula 1, the Lotus F1 team withdrew from the series in 1994 and only returned in 2010. However, while Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir, managing director of Lotus parent company Proton, and Lotus CEO Dany Bahar are both appointed team board members, ownership of the F1 team in fact belongs to Luxembourg-based private equity firm Genii Capital. Now, between Lotus and Genii Capital, the future of the team is up for grabs.
A precarious situation, Genii Capital may even consider to buy out Lotus itself if the sports car manufacturer struggles to break through in its production car operations and continues to suffer heavy losses. To note, Lotus made a £21.4 million pre-tax loss last year while Proton’s profits have begun to show a trend of decline. In January, the Malaysian government sold its 43% controlling stake of Proton to DRB-Hicom, a Malaysian Corporation involved in the automotive manufacturing, assembly and distribution industry. Genii Capital chairman Gerard Lopez has previously exchanged with DRB-Hicom on the possibilities of selling Lotus. Lopez said,”If there is a way that we think the company can be bought and run successfully, then of course we would be interested.”
Despite the financial obstacles, Lotus and Proton remain true to their racing commitments. Lotus spent approximately £25m annually to sponsor the F1 team that bears its name and parent company Proton also supported the team an estimated £34m to satisfy debt obligations concerning secured loans with Renault and bankrupt Lithuanian bank AB Snoras. Also, more than having members on the team board, a signed call option agreement with Genii on February 3rd entitles Proton the right to purchase a 50 percent stake in the team to become majority shareholders. Proton has yet to execute the option but this may only be a matter of time.
We will learn more as the negotiations progress and as the Formula 1 season unfolds.
Lotus has announced it will unveil a “special edition of a special edition” Evora at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Auto Show. Specific details haven’t yet been released, but it’s believed the car will be a Team Lotus F1 version of the Evora GTE.
Now photos of what is believed to be that exact car have now hit the net. Taken at a recent Lotus test event at the Jerez circuit in Spain the livery design bears a striking resemblance towards the Lotus Motorsports and Alex Job Racing GTE competing in the American Le Mans Series.
While the Evora S makes 345 hp from a supercharged 3.5-liter V6, the GTE ups the power rating to 444-hp while shedding more than 230 pounds. The quickest street Lotus ever, the Evora GTE looks fast even when standing still with its new Team Lotus F1 livery.
Stay tuned to what Lotus has in store at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Auto Show, as a rumored Evora convertible will also bow at the show.
GALLERY: F1-Inspired Lotus Evora GTE Special Edition
Lotus is preparing for the Geneva debut of its latest Lotus Evora GTE with Formula 1 Champion Kimi Raikkonen in tow.
While specs and information on the new Team Lotus F1 inspired sports car are limited, the Evora GTE concept revealed last year is already a winner in the looks department. Last year, our editor-in-chief Colum Wood got to experience the Evora GTE first hand when it unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and said the “Lotus Evora GTE Road Car concept makes the Porsche GT3 look like a chick car.”
A blend between a standard Evora and the GTE-class racing cars, the road-going Evora GTE not only produces 420-hp, but also dropped some 165 pounds from the standard model. Now with the new F1 tie-in, we should expect unique racing livery and extra hardware to deliver a more focused driving experience.
Look out for its official debut on March 6th at the Geneva Motor Show.