The prototype Lotus Sport Exige GT3 race car was unveiled at the annual FIA GT Championship presentation ceremony outside the world famous Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco 2nd December 2005th The next day (2 December 2005), the first test vehicle was held at high speed Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in Southern France under FIA supervision, the first phase of the Lotus Sport Exige GT3 becoming eligible for FIA GT3 competition. This latest FIA series, which will begin in 2006, has been racing cars that have the same power and weight, and that has direct lineage to their road going versions.
Lotus Sport Exige GT3 participants developed the Lotus Sport, the performance arm Lotus Cars and is derived from the standard Lotus Exige coupé model. Weighing about 750 kg, it stays true to "performance through light weight" core Lotus philosophy. The car uses a race prepared 1.8 2ZZ-GE VVTL-i engine with a Roots-type supercharger and air-to-air intercooler that uses Lotus T4e Engine Control Unit to produce 285 hp (289 hp) at 7800 rpm. This gives an impressive power to weight ratio of 380 hp / tonne or 2.6 kg / hp.
After a brief shakedown program Lotus test track at Hethel, factory test driver Gavan Kershaw conducted a final set of chassis tires on the wet morning session at Paul Ricard official FIA test. What followed was a trip to slick tires on the track by FIA nominated test driver drying Christophe Bouchut.
Commenting on the encouraging test, Chris Arnold, General Manager of Lotus Sport, explained: "We were delighted to attend the official FIA tests. Since the car was still on the drawing board two months ago, it's a fantastic achievement for the full build-in such a short time. We knew this test would be a first test for the car at the spot, and I am very pleased with the results. Our winter development program began testing the tunnel just before Christmas followed by further work in preparation for the next FIA test in March. "
FIA announced five races of the European Championship for the new GT3 class with rounds in the UK, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. Various national GT Championships are also considering modifications to its regulations to include GT3 class.