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  Article Image gallery (34) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1986
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Gerard Ducarouge for Lotus
Predecessor:Lotus 97T Renault
Successor:Lotus 99T Honda
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 23, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1985 Lotus had returned to their winning ways for the first time since the sudden death of company founder Colin Chapman in 1982. The combination of the Gerard Ducourage designed 97T chassis, Renault twin-turbo engine and two talented pilots (Elio de Angelis and Ayrton Senna) resulted in three Grand Prix victories that season. Everything pretty much stayed the same for 1986, with the exception of the departure of Italian drive de Angelis, who was replaced by Scottish driver Johnny Dumfries. The 98T fielded that year was nevertheless not an evolution of the previous season's machine but featured a brand new tub.

The reason for Ducarouge to draw up a new chassis was a change in the fuel-cell limitations. The maximum size had been slightly cut in order to slow gas-guzzling turbos down a little. The French designer used this to create a more compact monocoque. For the first time a one-piece moulded composite structure was used. The front double wishbone suspension was carried over from the previous cars with a heavily revised geometry. At the rear an adjustable ride-height system was used for most of the races. Another novelty was the implementation of a six-speed gearbox The aerodynamic package also received some tweaks but it takes a keen eye to distinguish the 98T from its immediate predecessor.

In 1985 Lotus had a privileged position with their engine supplier Renault over the French manufacturer's other customer. Upon the withdrawal of the Renault Formula 1 team at the end of that year, Lotus was effectively the Works team and received all the latest developments. The EF15B specification of twin-turbo V6 engine had been especially constructed with fuel efficiency in mind. At the start of the season the engine still featured valve-springs but soon after a much refined pneumatic valve system was incorporated. Although it was very expensive, the new valve-train greatly improved the V6's reliability. In qualifying trim the French engine produced upwards of 1150 bhp, which was pegged considerably during the races to save fuel.

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  Article Image gallery (34) Chassis (2) Specifications