Lotus builds open-wheeler racer

Group Lotus has announced that it is building a single-seater racing car to be used for track days and club racing. The composite-bodied car is based on the Lotus Elise aluminium chassis and will feature a supercharged variable valve timing engine which will power the car from 0-60mph in under four seconds.

The "Circuit Car" is due to go into production in December at Hethel in Norfolk and it is planned to build around 100 cars a year.

The news marks Lotus's return to single seater competition for the first time since the closure of the Lotus F1 team early in 1995. Lotus was established in 1952 and entered Formula 1 in 1958. Success of the race track was an important part of the company's commercial success and in 1963 Jim Clark drove a Lotus to a remarkable seven wins in a season and won the World Championship for the first time. In 1965 Clark dominated again and in Graham Hill won a third title in 1968. This was followed by further titles for Jochen Rindt (1970), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972) and Mario Andretti (1978).

Lotus also won the Indianapolis 500 and gained a reputation for innovation which helped the business sell more road cars. Team Lotus was eventually split from the car company but went out of business because of lack of funding.

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