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  Lotus 101 Judd      

  Article Image gallery (15) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1989
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Frank Dernie for Lotus
Successor:Lotus 102 Lamborghini
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 29, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the end of the 1988 season, many of the independent teams were in search of a new engine (supplier). The reason was the complete ban of forced induction, in favour of naturally aspirated engines with a maximum displacement of 3.5 litre. Perhaps hardest hit of all were Lotus, who had previously used Honda's dominant turbo V6s. For 1989, however, the Japanese manufacturer opted to focus on McLaren exclusively at the expense of Lotus.

Before switching to one of the proprietary engines, Lotus explored various other options. One of the most interesting was the ambitious Tickford engine with five valves per cylinder. When that came to naught, Lotus were forced to turn to Judd for what the specialist company's customer 'CV' engine. First used during the 1988 season, the 3.5 litre V8 was wholly conventional and produced around 610 bhp. For their favoured team, March, Judd had developed the narrow-angle 'EV' V8 but they could not make this unit available to Lotus.

Inside the Lotus ranks there had also been a significant change; Gerard Ducarouge had been replaced by Frank Dernie as the team's chief designer. Originally hired to fill the void left by the late Colin Chapman, the Frenchman had served Lotus throughout the team's turbo years. Dernie was recruited from Williams and was handed the complicated task of designing a car to meet the new demands. Due to the relative lack of power of the new generation engines, these demands were to keep drag at an absolute minimum while still producing sufficient downforce.

Dernie's first design for Lotus was dubbed the Type 101 and clearly reflected the change in aerodynamic requirements; it was considerably longer, lower and narrower than its predecessor. Another new feature was the very tall air-box behind the cockpit, which fed fresh air into the Judd CV's eight intake trumpets. Constructed from carbon-fibre with a honeycomb reinforcement, the Type 101's monocoque was suspended by double wishbones with pull-rods at the front and push-rods at the rear. A six speed gearbox completed the new Lotus' mechanical package.

Amidst all of the aforementioned change, Team Lotus had managed to retain its lead sponsor as well as its two drivers; double World Champion Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima. As test-driver the team recruited the talented North Irish F3000 racer Martin Donnelly. Completed relatively late, the Type 101 was not ready for testing until March. Dernie's tight package left very little room for the drivers and the team even had to commission special steering wheels from MOMO to prevent the drivers' knuckles from scraping on the cockpit sides.

Lotus starred the season mildly optimistic but were quickly forced to face the reality of running a customer engine. Compared to the ten and twelve cylinder engines run by the other top teams, the Judd CV was left wanting. The biggest disappointment came when neither driver managed to qualify for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Undeterred, Piquet and Nakajima soldiered on and amassed a total of 15 points, which was enough to secure sixth in the standings for Lotus. Interestingly that was also almost four times more points than the 'works' supported March team scored.

By Lotus' standards the 1989 season was a bitter disappointment and to prevent the same from happening again a new engine supply deal was actively pursued. Eventually a deal was struck with Chrysler-backed Lamborghini for a new V12. The team spent 150,000 hours on the Type 101's replacement. Unfortunately these vast resources spent again failed to bring the results that we all had come used to from Lotus. Considering the limitations in place that were out of Lotus' control, the team did manage to achieve the maximum in 1989 with the 101 Judd.

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  Article Image gallery (15) Specifications