Lotus sports cars at APC Round 1 at Sandown Raceway



The Lotus Exige Sport 350 made it's debut in the Australian Production Car series which held its first round at Sandown Raceway in Victoria. It was a weekend of mixed fortunes in extreme weather conditions with race leading positions, top 5 finishing results, great car reliability & lap times in the 19's on par with many of the more experienced APC teams.

The result was made even more pleasing considering the nature of the Sandown circuit not suiting the Lotus Exige's strengths, the new rules/regulations/requirements the crew needed to adapt to quickly and the first time all three cars were run in competition.

All three of the Lotus Exige Sport 350's have been prepared by our team using their in-house knowledge and expertise from years of selling, servicing & racing Lotus sports cars. After many months of planning and vehicle builds the team were excited to get racing for the first time.

Melbourne put on some blustery cold wet weather with temperatures between 7-12 degrees. With the track extremely wet, and no wet weather tyre option, all teams were forced to use the series spec Hancook Z221 Medium compound tyres. Being an older circuit Sandown had lots of standing water along the track and visibility was quite poor given the rainy conditions.

Tony D'Alberto after a few laps was 3rd quickest behind the two four-wheel drive cars but had an incident on the main straight caused by a combination of semi-slick tyres, painted lines and pools of standing water which meant the D'Alberto/Denyer Exige would take no further part in the weekend.

All attention was then placed on the remaining Exige's with Jim Pollicina placed as high as 3rd in Practice 3. After the combined results of qualifying he and Ryan Simpson secured P5, quickest of the 2WD cars, with Tony & Kyle Alford set to start from P19 as they took a more cautious approach to the weekend.   

Race 1
After starting 19th Tony worked his way through the field and secured a brilliant 5th place in race one on debut.

Ryan made a blistering start and was leading the race in the other Exige but a missed gear shift just after a safety car restart resulted in an over-rev of the engine which led an early retirement.

Race 2
Kyle was the lone Exige driver for race two and had a solid start but slight contact with another vehicle lead to suspension damage which the team fixed in the pits enabling the car to rejoin, but finishing well down the field.

Race 3
Sunday the teams awoke to sunny conditions although the SSC crew had been working overnight to do an engine change for the Pollicina/Simpson Exige which enabled them to take part in the last 2 races.

Both Exige sports cars were starting from towards the rear of packed grid with Tony Alford repeating his efforts of Race 1, driving through the field to an excellent 4th, narrowly missing out on a debut podium and some champagne.

Ryan made a blistering start getting into 9th position after the opening lap & then steadily worked his way up to 4th before the compulsory pit stops.  He rejoined in 15th place and by lap 18 had worked his way up to 2nd, catching the leader with around 12 laps to go. Although, it wasn't to be, as he attempted to pass backmarkers he was cliped on the rear corner of the Exige. The impact damaging a toe link and putting Ryan out of the race. Promising signs indeed with his fastest lap within a few laps of the race winner.

Race 4
Damage repaired & a reset for the last race of the weekend it was Jim Pollicina and Kyle Alford ready on the grid. A solid race for both drivers which included Kyle being held up in pit lane by a parked up GT car which lost valuable track position to the leaders. 

In the end it was an outstanding result with 4th and 5th place respectively providing great encouragement for the rounds ahead.


Next round
We head to Queensland Raceway on the 27th-29th for Round 2 with Tony & Kyle Alford currently placed 4th in the Championship Standings. The paperclip is expected to better suit the Lotus Exige Sport 350 with its long flowing corners and shorter straights combined with Queensland's typically warmer, dry, weather.


Photo credits:
Australian Production Cars
Shannons Nationals
Insyde Media