‘New’ Lotus Driving Academy Opens At Hethel
By Kyle Lindsay
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - 12:30
Drivers seeking the opportunity to drive the latest Lotus models at the famed manufacturer’s facility will soon have the chance to follow in the wheel tracks of Lotus legends after it has been confirmed that the Lotus Driving Academy will reopen in July 2017.
From as little as £119, right through to the intensive ‘Gold’ course at £899, the Lotus Driving Academy offers a range of experiences suitable for anyone looking for a more involving and informative track session that will enhance and hone their driving skills.
Using a new fleet of the Exige Sport 350 as well as the latest Elise Sport 220 cars, including a left-hand-drive derivative that’s ideal for visitors from outside the UK, the Lotus Driving Academy has revised and refreshed its choice of driving packages suitable for over 21s. The ‘Scare Yourself Sensible’ experience, ideally suited as a gift, is now more affordable whilst the Bronze, Silver and Gold licence days build up to obtaining the coveted Lotus Licence. These challenge even the most ardent serial track day enthusiast, with more driving time, a personal evaluation, the option of on-board footage and exclusive merchandise to remind yourself and others of your day. All Licence participants receive an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the Lotus factory, as well as a tour of the Classic Team Lotus facility where you will see some of the cars from Lotus’s prestigious Formula 1 history and round the experience off with a high-speed, on-the-limit ‘demonstration lap’ with one of the instructors. Guests of participants can also experience both for an extra charge.
“The Lotus Driving Academy offers enthusiasts a unique opportunity to drive at speed, at the home of Lotus for over 50 years,” says Simon Poole, head of the Lotus Driving Academy. “Hethel oozes with heritage and any car enthusiast will revel in the chance to learn new skills in the latest Lotus alongside the guys that have made these cars so special on the road and track.”
Underlining the deep links with the British manufacturer and emphasising the technical input rarely found with circuit driving experiences, many of the instructors have extensive ties with Lotus that has been based at Hethel since 1966. The Lotus Driving Academy instructor team includes former F1 driver Martin Donnelly as well as engineers from Lotus’s famed Ride and Handling team, such as Dave Minter (who has worked on every Elise model since the very first), as well as GT and BTCC drivers ensuring that any driver will learn something new from the day.
“We’ve very much kept the intimate ethos of the Academy with one-on-one coaching but have broadened the appeal with more affordable pricing at the entry level and more intensive track time for the licence packages. The Gold licence gives drivers advanced skills exercises to perfect: heel and toe, power oversteer and negotiate the extended cone slalom.”
“These courses are very similar to the ones Lotus delivers to third party manufacturer engineers so a customer will go away having learned much more about their driving, but also a good understanding of vehicle dynamics. That’s what makes us different from other experiences; you really are coming to the home of vehicle dynamics to learn from the masters.”
Since the original Lotus Driving Academy temporarily closed when motorsport staff were switched to cope with demand from the road car factory, Lotus has been looking to reopen the facility that has welcomed guests from as far away as Brazil, China, Australia and Canada. “It’s a rare opportunity to drive at a track where Lotus legends Clark, Rindt, Piquet, Fittipaldi, Andretti, Mansell and Senna tested F1 cars,” adds Poole. “We’ve had customers patiently waiting to come back and drive and now we are ready!”