In perhaps the best-matched exchange we’ve seen from Mr. Jules, he takes his Duratec-powered Lotus Exige against a “skilled and ‘lively’ gentleman” behind the wheel of a heavily-tuned BMW E36 M3. That’s one way to put it.
Not a battle of David versus Goliath as we’ve come to expect from him, this squabble showcases two track-oriented tools have similar cornering capabilities—but the man in the red Beemer seems to have left his prescription at home as he hurried in a daze to Dijon.
With 270 horsepower from his 2.3-liter Duratec and just 1,600 pounds to push around, Jules’ Lotus has the measure of the M3 on the straights. However, boxed in slightly by an R8 towards the end of the braking, he politely leaves the door open just long enough for Mr. M3 to slip by on the inside line with a kamikaze maneuver. Having a zesty red paint scheme is easily visible in an opponent’s mirrors, and this reduces the chances of accidents.
Well beyond the limit; the madman in the M3 bobbles and hops after extending the braking zone by a few car lengths and adding the slightest bit of steering lock. The car couldn’t be driven much harder—especially in the conditions.
With a thin layer of condensation on the surface of Dijon, the M3’s backside is constantly dancing, but that doesn’t daunt the driver. He’s even pulling some noticeable slip angles through the fastest corners of the course and not leaving much, if anything, on the table. In adverse conditions like these, the man in the M3 might have an advantage; the Beemer’s benign handling balance allows him to pitch the car into drifts and still maintain some momentum.
In comparison, the Exige is a nimbler, tidier, and faster car—but it’s also more exacting and becomes quite a handful when the heavens open up. When the downpour levels the playing field, the man in the M3 puts on a show for all of us to enjoy—and at times it looks more like drift practice than a trackday.