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10th July 2003

Lotus pocket rocket prepares for Goodwood showdown

Lotus Engineering’s young graduate engineers are making final preparations to their stunning Type 119B racer before attacking the ‘Gravity Racing Club Soapbox Challenge’ at the 2003 Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend

The Lotus Type 119B brings together a combination of intelligent design, advanced components and world-class Lotus expertise to harness the energy available only from gravity. The result is a highly efficient machine proudly carrying the famous Lotus roundel at speeds of up to 60 mph amongst rivals from across the automotive and engineering industries.

"It has been an immense challenge and a fantastic journey since last September" explains James Setter, 24-year old project leader. "And we’re extremely proud to be representing Lotus and its rich motorsport heritage at an event as prestigious as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We were one of the front runners at testing, and have made some improvements since then, so we’re confident of challenging for victory."

The ground-up concept was designed with sophisticated CATIA Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software. A digital model of 22-year old pilot Malcolm Barnett ensures the narrow tub chassis fits his body like a glove. The wheels, hubs and struts are enclosed in smart, sleek fairings and the design was fine-tuned in wind-tunnel tests. This gives the 119B a highly efficient aerodynamic profile to cut smoothly through the air.

The Type 119B project team has worked with a dedicated group of technical partners to bring leading technologies into play. The tub chassis is composed of advanced SprintÒ material with aluminium honeycomb core, which combine to produce a strong yet lightweight structure of just 39kg. This minimal weight allows the strategic positioning of ballast to optimise the weight distribution inside the soapbox.

Top-specification wheel hubs and bearings keep rolling resistance to an absolute minimum, accompanied by high quality tyres which also offer the optimal level of grip for the high speed bends on the famous Goodwood hill. Meanwhile lightweight titanium Formula One steering components offer precise, smooth steering input and feedback with a 7:1 steering ratio.

James Setter and his team have had access to the full range of Lotus’ facilities and have had the benefit of advice from expert engineers. As engineering director Simon Wood explains, the project has been a valuable exercise. "The soapbox programme has provided these graduates with an extremely rewarding experience, managing their own project budget and timing plans. And, importantly, it’s been great fun, too. Everyone is behind the team, and seeing the Lotus Type 119B speeding to victory would be a terrific result!"