There’s a tyre wall on the Lotus test track. It borders the edge of ‘the circle’, a section of the track that (as the name suggests) is a roundabout that can either be used for drifting practice, or becomes a tricky part of the overall track.
For those few metres of tarmac before you enter the circle, there is little or no room for error. Or rather there is plenty of room for error, most of it involving fibreglass splinters and a hospital stay.
At 5pm on Saturday, I was approaching the circle in a Lotus Elise S at about 60mph in third, with Dave the chassis engineer sat next to me trying not to look nervous.
Brake hard, shift down to second with some liberal heeling and toeing to keep the car balanced, swing it round the circle and take a wide line out to use the whole of the track and ensure you’re well into third by the time you hit the next complex of winding corners. And take a deep breath before you get to the mixed delights of the chicane.
Lotus is a great institute for more than the obvious reasons.
Lotus is a place where you can revel in the delights of a company that has achieved international success, makes some of the best drivers cars in the world, but that serves up tea and cake in a slightly rickety building in the middle of nowhere, and that relies on the bountiful talents of ordinary blokes named Dave and Al to teach you the finer points of yaw rate and oversteer.