Last Sunday evening I flew to Frankfurt. I stayed in an airport hotel for the night and early next morning I took a train to Hockenheim. Daniel and his Komotec team were at the track for the day with a bunch of customer cars, including a very racy Exige Cup R and Evora GT4. More importantly from my perspective, they also brought my car with them for the long overdue hand-over. I had toyed with the idea of having the car delivered back to me in England, but Daniel insisted that we did a hand-over in person. I made it to the track without any problems and found my car waiting for me in the pit lane. First impressions were that the installation looked superb. The engine bay was tidy, all the parts super high quality, the new supercharger unit filled the space nicely and looked like it meant serious business! The whole thing was at least OEM standard, if not better.
Daniel told me to go take it for a drive and then we could discuss any questions. So I made my way down the pit lane, turned right away from the track, through the paddock and found a large empty piece of tarmac out the back of the circuit where a couple of cars were occasionally heading for some basic warm-up runs. I did a few runs back and forth, both at full throttle and at crawling speed, and a couple of doughnuts of course. Full throttle felt very strong but hard to get a full impression given space was limited so could only just about get into third gear. At low speed, there was still quite a bit of the jerky/rough idle that I had before, which was disappointing. So I went back to the garage to pick up Daniel, he plugged his laptop into the ECU and then we drove back out to the space of tarmac. I showed him the problem and he tweaked the ECU mapping. It certainly improved things, but it was clear that it was never going to be perfect. This remains the biggest drawback. The car is not happy at very low throttle openings, as you would be in crawling traffic for instance. It splutters and turns jerky and occasionally stalls. It is manageable, but annoying.
I spent a good few hours at the track watching all the cars and chatting to loads of owners of both Lotus and others, which was great fun. Porsche GT3 RSs were by far the most popular weapon of choice, and looked and sounded fantastic on track, but there was a great mix of other machinery too, all of it pretty serious! Then it was time to hit the road for the drive up through Germany to Hook of Holland, where I was catching a ferry back to the UK over night. The drive went smoothly and as soon as the car was out on the open road it was clear that the kit ran superbly. It felt so linear and strong - very much OEM plus in nature. The sound was also terrific. Less supercharger whine than before, but still just the right amount on top of a deeper almost V8 rumble at times. As the revs rise though it really howls, even with the 2bular quiet track silencer I have fitted. The car absolutely rips through the gears now and still pulls like a train in 6th. Even the "Road" map with "only" 400hp feels such a leap forward because of the extra torque. The "Sport" map adds nearly 100hp further, although to be totally honest I couldn't feel as much of a difference between the two maps as I was expecting. That might be because it was hard to really push the limits on public roads with this much power, especially on my first drive, so I need more time to explore the difference between the maps properly.
I was absolutely loving life until I was 50km away from the ferry, when I heard and felt a light bang and then a load of rattling from behind me. Initial thought was that something had fall off or got caught under the car. I immediately slowed right down, coasting in neutral until I found a spot to pull over. Fortunately there was a gap in the armco and I managed to back into a safe area. I popped open the rear deck fearing the worst, but fortunately there was no obvious catastrophe - no fire, no oil, no pieces everywhere. On closer inspection however, it was clear that the outer edge of the supercharger belt had frayed and a strip had ripped off and was lying at the bottom of the engine bay. I called Daniel, who was concerned and very helpful. He said that the car would still run as long as at least part of the belt was on but he couldn't guarantee how long it would last. I decided to continue to the ferry as I was starting to run out of time and make a decision when I got there. I limped the rest of the way, sticking to 55mph and avoiding putting any load through the belt as much as possible. It seemed to work, I made it to the ferry and called Daniel again. He said that he would come collect the car, take it back to Mendig and fix it first thing in the morning. He also said he would book me a local hotel for the night. I agreed to do that, rather than leaving the car there and getting the ferry home alone (I was on a tight schedule due to work but decided to juggle it as I had my laptop with me). So I re-booked the ferry for the following night, turned around and headed back the way I had come, still sticking to 55mph and trying to be as gentle as possible. I met Daniel at Eindhoven airport. By this stage it was gone midnight. We loaded the car onto his truck and drove the rest of the way to Mendig together, arriving around 2.30am. We parked up the truck and the Daniel dropped me at my hotel for the night before he headed home himself.
The next day, I just left Komotec to fix the car, while I stayed in the hotel working. I got a message around 2pm that the car was ready so I packed up my stuff and walked round. Daniel immediately told me that they had made a small mistake in the fitting and the pulleys were fractionally out of alignment. This had caused the belt to rub and ultimately break. He was highly apologetic and said he had given my car a full geo reset as a token gesture. While it had certainly been a hassle for me and caused a bit of stress having to juggle work, I could not have been happier with how Komotec handled the problem. Daniel went way above and beyond to help get things sorted as efficiently as possible, which says a lot about the man. The set up they have in Mendig really is very impressive indeed and I am sure I will be back before too long! Problems happen, it's how you deal with them that matters, and I can't speak more highly of the service I received.
So then it was back on the road again, and this time made it all the way to the ferry and then home without any incidents at all. I even managed to get in a couple more doughnuts for a bunch of kids with camera phones out at a drive-though McDonalds coffee stop where there was a big piece of waste tarmac round the back. The car felt amazing and absolutely ridiculously fast. You can blast past virtually any traffic (even fast moving German executive wagons) in a heartbeat with just a flick of the throttle. I am looking forward to testing it out further over the coming weekend (and in particular exploring the differences between the two maps more fully) and hopefully on a track day soon. Sadly the Evo Magazine day at Goodwood that my wife got me for my birthday on Wednesday has been postponed, but I am sure I'll find something else before long.
Finally, in case helpful or of interest to anyone, below is a list of the current specs of my car:
Charge cooled Harrop TVS1900 supercharger kit
Komotec front mounted radiator and other hardware
Larger 76mm throttle body
Komotec EX500 larger carbon air intake
550cc fuel injectors
60l fuel tank
Moroso Baffled Sump
ECU Master EMU Black ecu
Bespoke dual mapping by Komotec
ECUMaster ADU7 dash
Lotus OEM Traction Control Adjustment Dial
2bular EPK headers/down pipe/sports cat
Zircotec Performance White coating for headers/down pipe
2bular track back-box/silencer with carbon tips
Evora 400 clutch & flywheel
Komotec Gearbox Oil Cooler
Ohlins TTX 2 way adjustable (800lb/1050lb road and 950lb/1250lb race springs)
Seriously Lotus Forged rims
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres 215/45/17 (front) 285/35/18 (rear)
Performance Friction 08 brake pads
Alias 23 side sills, full length front splitter and carbon wing mirrors with alloy stems
Lotus 430 Cup rear diffuser
DJ Racecars carbon rear wing with painted end plates