Enthusiast brave the cold of Norfolk, joined by Clive Chapman, Gino Rosato & Alistair McQueen. Credit: Group Lotus

Gino Rosato, Director of Corporate Operations for Group Lotus plc welcomed a group of 40 Lotus enthusiasts from across Europe to Hethel yesterday to offer some insight into the company, it’s current plans and board level thoughts on future placement of the company and it’s products. Along with a welcome from Clive Chapman, Rosato’s introduction included details of the itinerary for the day which was to include any Lotus fans ideal day out with trips to the production areas, track time both driving and as a high speed passenger in current and past products and a trip to the design studio to see the 5 new cars. Lotus’s Richard Parramint then took over the day to keep the enthusiasts pulse’s racing and interest piqued.

On hand for the track experience were famous names from Lotus’s past, present and future with veteran Lotus Chief Instructor Alistair McQueen, ex-Lotus F1 driver Martin Donnelly, American Le Mans Series (ALMS) driver Ben Devlin, Formula Ford’s David Brice and Lotus’s Simon Poole & Graham White. The cars available were the Elise S, Exige S, Evora and Evora S, all of which were driven around Lotus’ own test track southern circuit by the enthusiasts with an instructor on hand to offer advice on how to get the best from the car through the twisting track. Work is currently under-way for a £2.5m improvement to the track at Hethel to bring it to current FIA standards hence access to the northern half of the circuit was restricted due to a myriad of diggers and earth movers.

A tour of some of the current production facilities in Factory 5 was another highlight of the day with Lotus Director of Production, Micheal Och showing the group what’s currently happening and how his vision in this area will enable Lotus to produce the quality and quantity of cars they’ve got planned. Also, guests had the opportunity to visit the design studio where Russell Carr and Wolf Zimmerman were on hand to explain the new era range of cars, how they will be produced and how Lotus intends to bring the cars to market on the budget and time scales indicated in Paris and since.

The enthusiasts were met at lunch by Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Director of Motorsport, Claudio Berro. Bahar explained that Lotus DNA was an intrinsic part of his plans and that he and his executive team had locked themselves in a room with Colin Chapmans correspondences and notes and absorbed them all in the greatest detail when he first joined the company back in 2009. He is confident that his future vision of Lotus is what Chapman would have liked to have seen and that the cars and most certainly what Chapman was working towards in the seventies and early eighties with high level engineering, ingenuity and invention. The companies motorsport plans were explained, the truth behind the current F1 battle was discussed and there followed a 20 minute Q&A with Bahar answering all questions frankly and convincingly, even extending the planned session to be able to speak to more people. The 8500m2 Heritage Centre which is planned to be completed in 2013s was detailed which sounds like an excellent future addition to the company, one we’re looking forward to and Bahar left the group to continue the day to applause from those assembled.

Finally the enthusiasts were treated to a chance to see what the current products can really do with the instructors taking them around the track at high speed an on occasion, high slip angles. At the end of the day, attendance certificates and gift bags containing Lotus goodies were given to all and thanks were clapped at staff. Thanks must go to Lotus for opening the doors once again to enthusiasts, for the staff for putting on a good day and treating everyone like a VIP and to Julie Bochove of seloc who organised the event.

Photos: Yvo Tuk

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