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Club Lotus

Published - Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Special offer for Club Lotus members - Lotus Driving Academy , Hethel 4th October
'After what’s been an early start for most of us, it’s good to arrive at Hethel just before 08.00 to find hot and cold drinks and breakfast
waiting in the LDA clubhouse overlooking the track. Twelve of us are here to enjoy the LDA Level 1 course on the superb Hethel
circuit in the company of Martin Donnelly, Richard Parramint and the LDA team - and the Norfolk sun is shining, perfect!
In a lively next 15 minutes we’re treated to the Richard and Martin Show - very entertaining but with a serious message as they
run through what’s in store for us during the day. Richard covers the structure of the day while Martin handles the initial driver briefing,
track rules and safety advice.

We then split into 4 groups; two will be out on track while Richard leads the others off to enjoy the factory tour. I’m in the first group
with Martin as my instructor and Jay Bridger takes the other group. It’s time to grab a helmet and get into a frame of mind for some
serious driving. We’re using standard 134bhp Elise’s which weighing only 876kg offer 0-60 in 6 secs and more importantly a
beautifully balanced and rewarding driving experience. It’s a reminder of just how good Elise still is after 18 years of continuous
development - like Richard P there’s no signs of ageing here.

Martin takes the wheel for the first 3 lap sessions around the North Circuit then we swap seats and it’s my turn for another 3 or 4 laps to
get the feel of the car. The FIA standard track is marked with cones for braking, turn-in and apex and the emphasis is on smoothness,
consistency and accuracy of line. Master these and speed will come naturally later on and lap by lap things start to improve. Driving
alongside a top-line ex F1 driver is always incredibly rewarding and Martin’s quick to analyse where I can improve. His style is relaxed
and friendly and his concise and descriptive advice is easy to follow and put into effect.

Back in the paddock there’s more 1-2-1 feedback from Martin then there’s time for a coffee to reflect on how to put everything you’ve
learnt into practice. In the second session it all comes together nicely and I’m soon into the groove and beginning to progressively push
the Elise which is clearly enjoying itself! 4 laps whizz by and after another debrief with Martin it’s time for coffee and a cake before
the groups swap over and I’m off for the factory heritage tour with Richard. The tour is crammed full of fascinating facts and anecdotes
about the history of Lotus as well as how the current models are designed and built. Did you know it takes 7 litres of paint to cover an
Evora but only 4 to paint an Elise? Richard hasn’t changed in the ten years I’ve known him; his boyish (!) appearance belies the fact that
he’s been with Lotus for more years than most and his knowledge of the company is extensive, varied and stylishly delivered.

Refreshments are on tap all day and next is a superb buffet lunch in the clubhouse - but don’t eat too much as there’s still plenty of track
work to come. In the afternoon it’s back on track for two more lapping sessions, one on the North circuit and one on the twisty South
circuit. It’s time to put all that experience and tuition into practice and it’s very satisfying to keep hitting the right lines and apexes.
Finally it’s playtime with MD and a hot-lap passenger ride with him to explore how far you can get an Elise sideways - Martin, you’re a
hooligan and we both return with big grins!

Back to the clubhouse and there’s a final few words before those of us leaving are presented with our certificates - several others are
staying on to complete Levels 2 and 3.

Finally we head over the road for a tour of Classic Team Lotus which is still based in the original 1960’s Team Lotus premises. The sense
of history oozes from the walls and you’ll see some legendary racing cars up close.

Overall it’s a fantastic day for any Lotus enthusiast.'
. Club Lotus News Issue 3 2014
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