I completed my Lotus Driving Academy Level 1 "Licence" last Saturday and I can now say that Martin Donnelly is not only a complete nutter on track but one of the nicest blokes you're ever likely to meet.
The day started at 8 in the morning and went on 'til just after 5 in the evening, and went something like this:
A stand-up comedy session by none other than Martin himself (he has some brilliant stories about the likes of Eddie Jordan and Bernie Ecclestone!!).
A factory tour (even though there was no production on a Saturday, and they had just had their two week shutdown, it was still great to see so many cars in various states of build on the assembly lines). There were loads of Evoras SRs outside too, just waiting to be shipped to the States - looks like the SR is very popular.
Then the first track session of the day on the North circuit. Martin does a couple of demo laps at about 85% then we get about five laps driving of quick, quicker, braking later, braking even later, braking even later than that - then, wow, this is f....ing fantastic!!
Lunch with more stories from the meister himself.
Then a return to the North circuit for the second session, again starting with a sighting lap from Martin, followed by another five laps of fine tuning of lines, getting the front end to bite into tight corners with the brakes, full throttle through the apexes. Then, wow, I'm absolutely loving this!!
Then the third session of the day on the South circuit. Now the South circuit is the "more technical" of the two with a lot more corners and the superb, flat out Senna Curves, just clipping the apexes right through to the massive braking area and then into the very technical lift - turn - accelerate - lift - turn - accelerate - lift (etc, etc, you get the picture) through to the second huge braking area, just clipping the apex on full throttle and into the Senna Curves again. Well, by this time I'm really into a fast, flowing rhythm, and it was quite amusing to catch and overtake (safely of course!!) the other guy on track who had started with a half lap gap - ha!!
What followed next was a couple of "real" demo laps from Martin on both the South and North circuits, but this time at about 95%. And yes, this really confirmed his official title of "nutter of the year" - bloody good fun though.
Then it was the certificate ceremony (with goody bag!!), photo session outside (next to an Exige S Cup racer), and finally, a tour of the Classic Lotus collection and workshop with lots of great Lotus F1 cars from the past on show (and many of them in pieces). Our tour guide was Guy Munday from Stratton who also gave a fascinating and very detailed commentary on every single car - what a memory!!
Overall, a brilliant day - thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish - and now I'm chomping at the bit to do my first real track day.
Yes folks, I've now got the bug!!
Edited by Eric, 13 August 2014 - 12:33 PM.