you need to do 16 in front. sure you can get the same contact patches with 15 and 17, but the people with the 304mm ap brakes won't be able to use 15". I understand you will have to spend lots of money to make new 16" castings, but you'll open yourself up to a bigger, much bigger market. don't be stubborn here.
besides, no one here is going to take your knowledge over the lotus suspension engineers that designed our cars. everything, down to the wheel arch openings are designed for a staggered setup, and that is what people want. period, whether it's 15f and 16r, or 16f and 17r.
Only a fraction of Lotuses have the 304mm AP brakes. I wouldn't compromise on the application for the smaller brakes just to accommodate them. There are some very fast cars out there with well set up base brakes, some making double the stock whp. Maybe we end up needing two different solutions with both 15 and 16" fronts?
Regarding placing Lotus or any automotive engineers on an unassailable pedestal, sorry. They're just humans like you and me. Talented engineers on a cool project that was well managed. They make mistakes like everyone else, some that you live with every time you drive your car. Mostly though, they created a gem.
In any case, I seem to be spending a lot of time just asking for you all to be open minded to whatever the solution might be. What I'm asking is to spend some time looking at tire options and go from there.
Cruise tire rack. What other tires would you like to run if the appropriate wheel existed?
- Know that everything else being equal, a radial will be fastest when mounted on a rim equal or just slightly larger then the section
width of the tire. Ignore lawyer sourced sizing recommendations on mr's websites. The entire racing industry does.
- Look at actual tread widths, not just the nominal width.
- Consider that running a shorter tire improves gearing for a given course in most cases
- Everything else being equal, a smaller diameter wheel and tire will be lighter and have a lower MOI (Moment of Inertia) that an equivalent combo on a larger diameter wheel. Tires are heavier than wheels, rubber has a higher specific mass than T356.0 aluminum.
Again, I'm not committed to any size at all. An argument could be made for 17/17 for that matter. It starts with tires choices. So what tires do you run or would like to run? Do some homework and see what's out there.