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Eric

Lotus Academy - Level 1 - Done!

10 posts in this topic

Ey up,

 

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!!

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If you could understand Martin, its a good start    :)

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Fantastic! Great day by the sound of it. Thanks for writing it up too.

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Cool, sounds great.

 

Is this in your car or do you get to risk theirs ?

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Cool, sounds great.

 

Is this in your car or do you get to risk theirs ?

All the LDA courses use the "Academy" cars - they won't allow you to use your own. Levels 1 and 2 training are exclusively the Elise 1.6, Level 3 mixes the Elise with the V6 Evora S and Exige S.

 

I can thoroughly recommend all three elements. If you're lucky enough to have Martin as you instructor (I had this privilege for L3), you'll have an even bigger grin. Whilst all the instructors are very good, my experience of Martin was that he will "teach" as opposed to simply "coach". I certainly found that I progressed far quicker with his style.

 

The LDA ratio of students to instructors is typically 4 to 1 for L1 - and 3 to 1 for L2/3. This ratio works well as it balances your track time with useful gaps to watch others and reflect upon your improving performance.

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All the LDA courses use the "Academy" cars - they won't allow you to use your own. Levels 1 and 2 training are exclusively the Elise 1.6, Level 3 mixes the Elise with the V6 Evora S and Exige S.

 

I can thoroughly recommend all three elements. If you're lucky enough to have Martin as you instructor (I had this privilege for L3), you'll have an even bigger grin. Whilst all the instructors are very good, my experience of Martin was that he will "teach" as opposed to simply "coach". I certainly found that I progressed far quicker with his style.

 

The LDA ratio of students to instructors is typically 4 to 1 for L1 - and 3 to 1 for L2/3. This ratio works well as it balances your track time with useful gaps to watch others and reflect upon your improving performance.

 

Yep, all sessions were in the Elise 1.6, which gave a stunning demonstration of just what this humble little sports cars is capable of.

 

Ok, its not going to set the world on fire with its acceleration, but the biggest surprise for me was just how much braking g AND lateral g the car can generate on bog standard road tyres.

 

So (he says rather smugly) I'm now thinking that having both a 1.6 Elise and the Exige in my garage is a flippin' great combination cool.png.

 

Plus, I was complimented on my heel and toe technique by Martin - part of the Level 3 course apparently !!

Martin is possibly Lotus cars best salesmen, a true gent, Eric wait till Martin takes you out in a V6.

 

Whilst we were there, a party of Americans turned up and got taken out for some demo laps (driven by Martin) in that Exige V6 Cup racer - lucky b...tards mad.gif.  Seems that they'd won a Lotus championship over in the States and this was part of their prize.

 

Car sounded awesome though, and looked very, very quick!!

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Nice write up. Slow in fast out I suspect is appropriate for front engined, rear wheel drive cars. Not necessarily right for mid engined light weight sports cars.

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Nice write up. Slow in fast out I suspect is appropriate for front engined, rear wheel drive cars. Not necessarily right for mid engined light weight sports cars.

 

This wasn't a day for heroics, it was a day for learning, and Martin amply demonstrated how it was possible to do fast in, fast out!!

 

On "our" drives, all corners were set up for late turn in, late apexes for maximum safety, but it was still possible to carry a fair bit of speed towards the apex, then absolutely nail it on the exit.

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