Righto, time for a VERY long over-due update. It's been a bit of a crazy summer with a (temporary) change of job and a lot of triathlon training/racing culminating in my second successful Ironman in Vichy at the end of August. Now that racing season is over, I'm hoping to be able to focus a bit more on the Exige.
Since my last update in March, these are the changes I have made:
ECUMaster ECU & mapping from RRR - this is the most drastic change. I ummed and arghed about this for a long while but in the end decided to give it a go. The fact that H111 and KT seem to be supplying them now and that RRR were great to deal with convinced me in the end. I also wanted to make sure that I wasn't tied to KT for mapping given the different hardware I am running at the moment and likely to run in future. It offered maximum flexibility. The dyno results from RRR showed that the car is now producing just over 350bhp at the wheels, which they say is around 400-410 at the crank. It certain feels really strong, especially at the top end and really rips through the revs nicely. However at the moment the mapping is till a bit rough on start-up/at idle/when crawling in traffic. The car is going back to RRR in the next few weeks so hopefully they can smooth this out. At the same time they will (finally) be fitting the ECU Master ADU dash and the Lotus OEM traction control adjustment knob, which will allow me to exploit the capability of the ECU to offer adjustable traction control. Service from RRR has been terrific. Rob has been my point guy there and is an absolute legend.
2bular EPK with Zircotec coating - I previously had the 2bular track valveless silencer installed, which looked great with the big 100mm carbon tips (although I still prefer the titanium versions, but these were sadly not available) and also sounded good (bit deeper than OEM, not boomy, and no problems on track). Since its purpose is to allow you to get on track, it's not a crazy screamer but that is the trade-off I guess. I sent the manifolds and downpipe off to Zircotec for them to apply their Performance White coating. Expensive (very expensive...) but I thought it was worth it since I had the time before I was going to fit it to the car and anything that keeps heat out of the engine bay has got to be a good thing. I am also taking the approach of going for the absolute best I possibly can whenever I do anything, so it kind of fitted that theory. Plus it does look sweet when you glimpse the white in the engine bay! I am sure that the full exhaust system has contributed to the increased power and response, and the bespoke mapping has allowed me to maximise the potential of the system (along with the KT airbox I already had installed). Without wishing to get drawn into the eternal 2bular debate/slagging match, what I will say is that Jim's service for me has been absolutely excellent. He was highly responsive to my many questions and delivered all the kit very quickly indeed (within 2 weeks I think it was). The whole system really does look first class and I had no noise issues on track at Snetterton (tested 94db static). I couldn't ask for more.
KT gearbox oil cooler and Moroso baffled sump - given the increase in power and that I am trying to increase the amount of track time I am doing, I thought that it would be sensible to have BoT install these while they had the car. The gear change felt rock solid and totally consistent all day when I was at Snetterton during the heat-wave we had and no engine issues at all, so probably worth while and more of a preventative measure than out-right performance gain anyway.
Ohlins TTX - I bought these nearly-new rather a long time ago now for a good price and had H111 fit them at Easter time while we were away in Japan. I am absolutely delighted with how they have turned out. I fitted the slightly softer springs (800lb/1050lb road rather than 950lb/1250lb race springs) and, with the Cup 2 tyres (see below), the ride is absolutely fine on road. On track they are great. I got a chance to play with the settings a bit with some help from my personal mechanic for the day @GFWilliams (excellent service, very reasonable rates, brings all his own tools...) and that made them even better. Really helps balance out the effects of the LSD nicely. Everything I hoped they would be, and gold of course!
Wheels/tyres/brakes - I am still running the standard cast wheels at the moment but fitted Cup 2 (215/265) tyres. These are bloody brilliant. Great on track (very predictable and loads of grip) and great on road (ride comfort is better than the old Pirellis I had on). I had been looking at some BC Forged wheels for a while but couldn't quite settle on which design I liked best, nor could I afford to pull the trigger given the expenditure on other mods. Then out of the blue I got an opportunity to buy some nearly-new Simply Lotus forged wheels with a set of lightly used Cup 2s (215/285) for a price that I really couldn't refuse. I still don't love the look of the Lotus forged wheels to be honest, but for the price it was a no-brainer. Will be getting them fitted shortly and will be interested to see how different they feel. I have heard from a number of sources that it is quite noticeable. Front brake pads needed replacing so went for Performance Friction 08 pads, which matched what I already had on the rear. They seem to do the job very nicely on road and track without any issue. Special thanks to @Arun_D for delivering the wheels for me. Was lovely to meet you and your partner Cindy too.
Bodywork/aero - my @alias23 side sills arrived and were installed by BoT. They are great quality and look very nice indeed. Subtle but finish the car off nicely. Terrific service from Imran too of course as always, and I love being able to support someone in our community who is so passionate and doing such great work for us all to benefit from. In fact, that is why I have also ordered one of his new "road" spec splitters, which is being shipped to BoT as I type, as well as the new mirror stalks and mirrors that Imran has developed in conjunction with George, which hopefully should be ready in a few weeks. Update to follow on those in due course. I would have loved to have gone for the full "track" spec splitter but there is no way I will be able to get that into/out of my garage given the annoying dip I have to traverse! Hopefully the street version will add just a bit more aero and aggressive look to make it worthwhile in any event. I have also bought George's old DJ Racecar rear wing and KT mounts. I am having the end plates painted Ardent red to match my car (and also having a second set of plain carbon end plates made that I plan to have stickered by Divine Handcraft) and then the wing will be fitted by BoT in the next couple of weeks at the same time as the splitter. Finally, I ordered a 430 Cup style rear diffuser from Lotus with George's, so that has also arrived and will be fitted by BoT as well. The service from BoT has been excellent as always, and Sam has been fantastic to deal with. Great bloke too.
I think that's about it in terms of mods(!) so the only thing to add now is about driving. I've not been able to drive the car quite as much as I wanted given the amount of triathlon training/racing I have done this summer, but have still managed to get out quite a bit. The unquestionable highlight was a day at Snetterton that we had right at the end of July. Great turn-out from @Gordon S, @Ali tuck, @BatMobile, @GFWilliams and @AlanSears as well as a few other Exiges. We hired a couple of pro drivers for the whole day between us, which was a brilliant idea from @BatMobile and a massive learning experience. I had one high speed spin that was a proper brown-trouser moment but fortunately somehow managed to miss the barriers (through total luck not judgement) and no damage was done. Other than that, I enjoyed it more than almost any other day I have had with the car. I can only reiterate what I and others have previously said - these cars need to be taken on track to really show what they can do, and the best way to do that is with other owners, who are almost invariably great company. Even got a shout-out on Track Time!
Last weekend I took the Lotus down to Bill Rawles Classic Cars in Four Marks for their coffee morning. My Dad and some of his car buddies are regulars there but this was my first time. The place is amazing and I would highly recommend a visit if you like classic cars. I took my wife with me and my Mum also came, so it was a real family outing. We had a great time (the classic car geeks seemed to appreciate the Lotus lurking amongst their Healeys and E Types) and a lovely pub lunch afterwards - including meeting a P1 in the pub car park! The drive down in the morning along the A272 was great and really suited the Lotus well.
Finally a few pictures to follow below. Thanks for reading!