SAYA wins Lotus Race Series Round 1
Congratulations to Team SAYA.my for winning the inaugural round of the Malaysian Lotus Race Series. Held as a support race for the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix 2012 held from the 24-25th March, the rookie team entered a Lotus Elise Mk1 powered by JTCars. The grid is shared with Sports and GT production cars from the Malaysian Super Series and runs a 10 laps sprint format.
During qualifying, the alternator belt on the Elise came off and a crawling pace brought the car home at the back of the grid. The team tried to source a suitable belt in time for Round 1 but to no avail. Then the decision was made to run purely on battery power so, out with the tiny Lotus battery and in went a larger Porsche battery. Would there be enough juice to finish the race? No one knew.
Round 1 started late afternoon and the Lotus was push started to the grid to save battery. As the green lights came on, the front running Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Corvettes blasted away with their 500hp+ engines. Very soon the Lotuses were left with a clear track to their own.
It was exciting nonetheless. The low-powered, low-weight pedigree saw close racing, late braking and slip streaming from start till finish. No one could predict who would win. After a few laps, the faster front running cars would lap the Lotuses and in the midst of the chaos, positions would change again. In the end, the SAYA.my Elise came out first across the line. The crew was amazed that it could finish the race, running purely on battery power!
Round 2 proceeded the following day. As the car would make more power if the alternator ran, the crew tried to source a new belt. But to their best efforts the Elise was to run in “Electric Vehicle” mode again. Yesterday's win meant Elise started at the front of the Lotus pack. Again, the Elise was pushed started to the starting grid and all were in position for race 2.
The green lights came on and off every car went. The Lotuses made a good start this time and were tightly packed with the front running group coming into turn 1. Suddenly, a plume of smoke burst from the front of the field followed by scenes of flying wheels and bodywork in the air. Cars were crashing into each other and spinning out of control into the barricades. One car went full throttle into the smoke cloud, only to hit a stagnant tire that sent him straight into retirement.
From the pits we were looking out for the Elise but no one could see through the smoke and debris. As there was no onboard radio, communication could not be established with Elise no.91 so we could only wait as the Rescue and Fire crews ran towards the pile up at Turn 1. The yellow flag came on shortly and the F1 safety car was deployed to moderate the rest of the field.
Then, Elise no.91 was spotted! On the TV monitors! It was lining up behind the safety car. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as most feared the worst. Passing the pit wall, the Elise looks intact so it was not involved in the Turn 1 incident and it was still running 1st in the Lotus pack. The track clean up took very long and the crew did not know how long the battery will last as the race duration is now longer than Round 1 was. After 6 crawling laps, the F1 safety car turned off its yellow lights signaling the restart of the race, with 4 laps to go.
Green lights came on again and the field went full throttle. An Exige S and Exige GT4 had a better start than Elise no.91 and overtook it into turn 1. The Elise was relegated to 3rd on a single straight and higher powered cars were tailing behind waiting to overtake. Fortunately 2 cars spun at Turn 4 bunching the field up again. The Elise managed to reel in 2nd position but the front running Exige S pulled a gap that was sportingly impossible to close with 1 lap remaining.
In the end the Elise crossed the finish line 2nd in class. To the delight of the crew, the excitement filled weekend saw the Elise survived only with a few paint chips and a cracked head lense cover.
It was a successful race weekend and we would like to thank team SAYA.my on their maiden victory in their rookie season. Very good results: 1st in Round 1and 2nd in Round 2. To our beloved Sponsors, we thank you for your support and hope to see your support again in the coming round held in May.
JTCars will be preparing a second Lotus Elise for the Lotus Race Series 2012. For those interested in our LRS Arrive & Drive program or Sponsorship opportunities, please feel free to contact us! Part of the Arrive & Drive and Sponsorship proceeds will benefit various welfare and orphanage homes, not organizations. We personally pass the assistance to them.
Have a great week!