If you are a follower of the Time attack series, you cannot have failed to notice the be-winged Lotus Elise of Steve Guglielmi. In amongst the myriad of Japanese machinery, the little British sports car has proved more than a match for the huge horsepower Japanese saloons. Winning by a massive 1.5 seconds at Brands Hatch and being no more
than a fraction of a second off the top step of the podium in every
other round of 2009. Steve was kind enough to give me a few hours of his time and give the low down on this astonishing little machine.
Looking at the car now its hard to believe that back in 1997 it had started life as Lotus Elise 190 VHPD. Originally bought by a customer for Steve to run and develop, the Lotus has gone through some major transformations over the years.
The body was changed from standard Elise to a rare full carbon Exige 3 piece clam shell saving around 30kg over the standard body bringing the overall weight of the car down to a ‘it may blow away in the wind’ 830 kg.
Carbon look stickers? Not on this Lotus. look closely and you will see that its not a sticker but a mask put on while painting and the carbon you see is actually the roof.
The aero package is far from a ‘off the shelf’ item. all the aero you see has been developed over the years by Steve and his team. Not having the luxury of a unlimited budget or access to a wind tunnel all the splitters and spoilers have been designed in house ..
..Steve is a successful TVR Tuscan racer and no stranger to developing a race car so everything you see here works together to make one overall weapon of a car.
As you can imagine the standard K-series engine is long gone. Steve drove one of the early Audi converted Elises and knew that was the way to go. so back in 2005 out came the K-series and in went a 1.8 VAG unit. In a testament to Guglielmi Motorsports preparation and the strength of the Audi engine the engine has never been removed since it was originally fitted!
Running a Garrett GT30-76 roller bearing turbo and Motec M400 management the 1.8 litre engine is producing a astonishing 517 BHP using 1.8 bar boost and 594hp/tonne. as you can imagine its rocket ship fast!
Interior-wise its not that far removed from the standard Elise at first glance..
..But if you look closely you will see that there are a few little extras hidden away in the cockpit, the innocent looking toggle switch on the shifter giving the first clues to the rather clever system installed..
..The sinister gauge sitting on top of the aluminum box where the passenger seat used to live almost gives the game away of the hidden extra power contained with the lotus..
Dont be fooled into thinking that this a basic ‘all or nothing’ nitrous installation though, like everything with this car it has been thoroughly thought about to give optimum performance. Originally fitted as a anti-lag system the single jet wet NOS system is now used with the fogger jet set 12″ from the throttle and rigged through a progressive controller. Its is programed to deliver a and initial 30hp shot of nitrous on full throttle ramping up to 130hp extra over 1.5 seconds. The progressive nature of this system allows Steve to use a higher gear out of tight turns and provides seamless acceleration with no power wasted. The mix lightweight car huge power and aero package works so well that even in the wet power wasting wheel-spin is a rare occurrence.
2009 was undoubtedly a successful season for Guglielmi Motorsports but for 2010 more development is planned. First up the nitrous system is to be revamped with a 4 jet system. with a jet in each intake this will potentially be capable of delivering a extra 250hp progressively.
In the back room of Guglielmi motorsport Steve showed me the little collection of shiny bits ready for the 2010 season. The block is due to be disturbed from its 5 year resting place and swapped for a 2 litre unit with new turbo cams solid lifters and head, the estimated power output of the new engine will be somewhere in the region of 600hp thats of course not including the potential 250hp from the progressive nitrous system.
As well as the engine work changes are planned in the suspension department as well. During the final Time Attack round the team discovered a strange problem, under very heavy breaking the huge front splitter can starve the rear diffuser of air making the car become unstable. The solution? the possible installation of a floating third front shock absorber that will only come into play under heavy breaking and thus not cutting the airflow from the rear diffuser.
With the panned development probably well under way by now the 2010 Time Attack season is looking very promising for Guglielmi Mortorsports.They have proved without doubt that there is a very real and very competitive alternative to the Evos and Impretzas when it comes to Time Attack, I wish Steve and the team the best of luck and I’m sure we will be seeing more of this amazing car on Speedhunters throughout 2010.