Complete with a newly refurbished Lotus Test track at Hethel and new Chief Instructor in the form of former Lotus F1 driver, Martin Donnelly, the Lotus Driving Academy (LDA) opens its doors for the autumn term with a brand new syllabus and the new ‘Lotus Licence’.
The ‘Lotus Licence’ is a tiered staircase programme that delivers a full programme of driver training and qualification leading up to a drive in the Evora GT4 at race standard. Level 1 covers heritage and an introduction to the Lotus brand, an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the production facilities and general vehicle handling training.
Subject to successfully passing Level 1, drivers will advance to Level 2 and eventually to Level 3 where they hone their skills learning everything from the theory of vehicle dynamics and tyre grip to trail breaking and powersliding.
The secret of becoming a great driver lies in plenty of track time and expert training, and after completing Level 3 drivers are awarded their ‘Lotus Licence’ and judged to be capable of handling the race-ready Evora GT4.
This is where the curriculum gets serious – all aspects of the circuit for racing are encompassed with special attention to race lines, analyses and a full debrief, after the serious bit it’s on to the fun stuff – extracting more performance from the Evora GT4 race car.
The Evora GT4 is a transverse mid-engined, rear wheel drive, sequential 6-speed transmission with paddle shift and twin plate sintered clutch. Shod in slick tyres, it delivers 349 bhp at 6500rpm and 328 lb/ft (400nm) at 5500rpm of torque – sounds good? The LDA allows you to find out what it’s like to drive on track and really unleash your talent.
What’s unique about the LDA is that drivers receive dedicated 1:1 tuition for the entire programme. Selected by Martin Donnelly, instructors are not only of the highest calibre, but they are completely focussed on their pupils so drivers can advance at the quickest possible rate and receive a truly bespoke experience. Current LDA instructors include:
- Martin Donnelly
- Paul Adams
- David Brise
- Danny Golubovic
- Dave Minter
- Paul Parkinson
- Simon Poole
- Glynn Swetnam
- Graham White
Chief Instructor Martin Donnelly comments: “Lotus cars are real drivers’ cars. The Lotus Driving Academy is the perfect way to experience the special relationship between a car and the track and it’s a great opportunity for customers or aspiring customers to push themselves to the limit and experience everything Lotus has to offer. The syllabus we have put together is very technical so the training is comprehensive and challenging. There really is no better driver training out there!”
Managing Director Robert Lechner talks passionately about his plans for expansion: “We are really confident with the Lotus Driving Academy model, we have seen drivers progress and achieve their potential quickly so they keep coming back! Our success is down to creating the perfect learning experience with expert instructors in a world-class environment.
We are very happy to run our programmes at the re-launched Lotus track and are planning to open Lotus Driving Academies internationally, our first centre outside of the UK is at the Hungaroring in Budapest and we are looking at new locations at some of the greatest circuits around the world.“
The Circuits – Hethel
Situated beside Lotus headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk UK, the official Lotus test track is where the Lotus Driving Academy is located alongside Lotus Motorsport. With a length of 3.6 kilometres and width of 12 metres, it can be used additionally for GT racing and Formula 1 testing.
As a purpose-built test circuit, it combines a variety of technical aspects with a series of bends, hairpin, corners, straights and a turning circle designed to put Lotus’ high performance cars through their paces, and to train and develop driving skills.
The Circuits – Hungaroring
The LFA Budapest is based at the Hungarian Formula 1 track in a natural valley, surrounded by 50 hectares of rolling hillside. With this natural advantage, almost 80 percent of the racetrack is visible from any point. The smallest radius of a curve is 20 metres, while the largest is 400 metres.
The full length of the start-finish line is 788 metres and the track is at its widest point 15 metres, elsewhere the width varies between 10 and 11 metres – relative to the possible highest speed.