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Lotus Racing - Team Elite press release january  2004

Team Elite to debut Lotus Elise in ALMS

Team Elite, a division of Elite Motorsports Management, is proud to announce their plans to bring the name of Lotus back to professional motor racing, for all those loyal fans around the world. “We are very excited about the opportunity to campaign the Elise in the ALMS,” Keith Smout, Team Elite team Principle said. Team Elite plans to campaign a Lotus Elise in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series for the full 2004 season, and possibly will include a couple of the Le Mans Endurance series (ELMS) races, where scheduling allows.  

“This is an exciting year for Lotus with 2004 being the 50th anniversary of Team Lotus” said Gary Ankenmann, Director of Team Elite, “and the launching of the Lotus Elise street car to the North American market of which Road and Track called the “The Purest Sports Car on the Planet.”  

Having passed all the Homologation requirements Team Elite plans to use 2004 as a test and development season in preparation for a full two car assault on the 24 hours of Le Mans and ALMS in 2005.  

World-renowned driver Johnny Herbert will assist with the cars testing and development prior to its historic first race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in late March. Johnny has a history with Lotus, being one of their last Formula One drivers. Other drivers being considered include Marino Franchitti, Alex Zampedri and Ian Boss.

At this time Team Elite is excited to welcome the following partners; Park ‘N Fly Canada (www.parknfly.ca), Kwikpower International (www.kwikpower.com) and Jacques Villeneuve - Sonax Car Care Products (www.newtownsales.com). Negotiations with tire companies and other sponsors continue and more announcements will be made shortly.

With the Management based in Toronto, Canada, Team Elite will operate out of Florida with Technical Direction by Jim Higgs, owner of JB Racing Inc. A Florida-based company specializing in the manufacturing of high-performance parts and race engine building and development, JB Racing, Inc. has been selected by Team Elite to revive the once heralded Lotus GT1 racing program.  

Keith Smout, who has been Commercial Director for both BAR and Jaguar Formula One teams before returning to Canada in 2002 and Elite Motorsports Management Director, Gary Ankenmann who has been involved in commercial marketing activities for the past 7 years will run the teams operations on a day to day basis.