Lotus’s 1990s foray into GT racing had mixed success. One on hand, the Esprit GT1 was on the pace with the likes of the McLaren F1 GTR, gaining pole positions and leading races in the BPR Global GT Endurance Series. On the other hand, reliability issues blighted the campaign and meant that the car never delivered the results promised by its pace.
JUL 31st 2016
This rare Lotus Esprit GT1 was saved by fate
This particular example was run by Lotus in 1996, before being passed into private hands to make way for the works Elise GT1 programme. In race four of the 1997 season at Oulton Park, heavy accident damage saw the car out of contention. Effort to take it to the 1998 Le Mans 24-hour didn’t see it compete: instead it was used a spare package for its sister car.
That status was to sum up its life thereafter… an incomplete non-runner that was often pillaged for parts. Its lack of motorsport activity has been its saving grace, as its GT1 specification has been retained, albeit in component form. Esprit enthusiast Peter Downes bought it around five years ago and has been slowly piecing it back together ever since. He reckons it will be another two years before it’s up and running once more.
In the meantime, he’s happy to put it on public display at events like the Silverstone Classic, where it took a place in the '90s Endurance Legends paddock.
Photography by Tom Shaxson.
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