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2005 Saffron Yellow Lotus Elise; 2008 Porsche Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1: 2011 Audi S4 Manual
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have dreamed of coming to Hethel for eons to attend the Lotus Driving Academy. With the 3-day Lotus License, the opportunity for proper track instruction with professional instructors (including former F1 driver Martin Donnelly) with a bunch of seat time in the Lotus Elise and Exige was an absolute MUST for me.

After hoping to come to the LDA for years, then seeing plans for August 2020 attendance get scrapped due to COVID, it was amazing being here's, and the course exceeded all my expectations and was absolutely mega! I had never driven on track before, and the rate of progress through instruction that allowed me to get pretty much the maximum performance out of the Elise Sport 220 was awesome. I never could have imagined how hard I could push the car and now I have memories that are seared into my memory bank! 馃憤馃挴

Driving the ballistic Exige 410 Sport to cap off the last day was also incredible, even though this particular car was only available in RHD! If only these were sold in North America...

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It's also not every day you get to meet the namesake for a car, and one that is one of most iconic of all time. Elisa Artioli was also attending the 3-day session at the same time as me, and she was very approachable and down-to-earth as well (in addition to being a great driver). This was another cool memory from an unforgettable weekend! 馃槉
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What a great experience for you. You鈥檝e never been on track before Hethel?

Have you seen Elisa鈥檚 video interviewing her grandfather? Fun video.
 

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2005 Saffron Yellow Lotus Elise; 2008 Porsche Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1: 2011 Audi S4 Manual
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What a great experience for you. You鈥檝e never been on track before Hethel?

Have you seen Elisa鈥檚 video interviewing her grandfather? Fun video.
Other than a little supercar experience thing a few years ago where I got to drive three cars for three laps each around these fairly short autocross type tracks set up with a ton of cones, no I have never driven on track before. I have to say that this LDA experience was probably the best (and most fun) introduction I could have ever had though to proper track driving!!!

Seeing how hard the instructors wanted all the participants to hammer the cars just so we could learn about vehicle dynamics and the limits of the cars (and how they react at the limit), plus the consumables used daily (i.e. new brake pads and tires for each day; each car being refueled about 5-6 times a day; etc.), the 3-day course was remarkably good value. The fact that I also got to learn and drive in the Elise and Exige, two of my favorite cars of all time, made this experience all the sweeter! 馃憤

And I'll have to look up that video of the interview you mentioned. Sounds like it's worth a watch. 馃槉
 

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Just curious, are you willing to share the cost of the Lotus Driving Academy? If not, that's OK. This sounds like an experience worth pursuing. Thanks.
 

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2005 Saffron Yellow Lotus Elise; 2008 Porsche Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1: 2011 Audi S4 Manual
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just curious, are you willing to share the cost of the Lotus Driving Academy? If not, that's OK. This sounds like an experience worth pursuing. Thanks.
I had originally booked the 3-day session for August 2020 for GBP 1,699, but that obviously got canceled due to COVID. They marginally increased the price to GBP 1,799 including VAT for the 2021 season.


As I mentioned above, this seems like incredible value based on the consumables used, professional-level instruction, about 6 hours of track time over the 3 days, a tour of Classic Team Lotus, food and snacks over all 3 days, and obviously driving in the amazing Elise and Exige (noting that LHD Elises were available, but only a RHD Exige for the final session of the third day which was fine with me despite shifting with the "wrong" hand for the first time in my life).

In discussing with the instructors, they are currently trying to figure out what the 2022 season will look like as the last Final Edition Elise/Exige will be out the door sometime in December, and they have always gotten a new batch of cars at the beginning of each year. They noted the first 2 years of Emira production are pre-sold, so they don't know if they will be able to get 6 cars for the Academy. They might try to run the current cars next season but aren't sure yet about that, but I would suggest getting in touch with them to express interest and get your name on the contact list as slots booked quite quickly. I would definitely recommend trying to go as this was definitely a personal life highlight for me, plus I am definitely a better driver after having gone!

Speaking of the Emira, there was a pre-production test car on the South track for a little bit wearing camouflage (which was a bit odd since the car was unveiled already, but apparently is to disguise the lines a bit as everything isn't fully signed off for production and the panel gaps for example might not be representative of the final car). We weren't allowed to take pictures or video, but I have to say that I personally thought the car looked and sounded great. It is clearly bigger than the Elige, but I really liked the sound and look of the car in person.

On another note, it was cool to see the process of the new car shakedown process prior to final sign-off. All new cars are taken out on the track for 2 laps at moderate (not thrashing) pace for dynamic testing, run over a "bumpy road" with some decent sized offset speed bumps to see if things rattle free, etc. Here are a couple of FE Exiges that came out on Friday (note the tape on the sides that is also in the front to protect the paint) for their shakedown runs.

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On a FINAL semi-related note, some Lotus workers wheeled a pre-production test Evija in JPS colors out of a storage unit by the track on Sunday morning, so that was really cool to see in person. We definitely weren't supposed to take pictures of that, so I don't think I could share any photos that I "didn't" take of that one. 馃槈
 

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When we went over in 2017, we did it as a test drive that the dealer setup. Before going, I had requested an Exige 430 Cup because that was what I was looking at buying. They brought an Exige 430 CUP LHD and an Evora 410 Sport LHD. The Exige was a blast to drive and I talked with their production manager about getting a 430 Cup-R. At this time, the motorsports division was shutdown. The production manager told me it would be cheaper for me to buy a 311 R and a 430 Cup then have them build be a 430 Cup-R. :(

Since we were over there around Goodwood, I did get to ride in an Evora 430 GT up the hill. That was interesting but not all the exciting.

Since I could not get a 430 Cup-R, I have since purchased an Exige V6 Cup-R and I am in the process of making it an Exige 500 Cup-R.

Later,
Eldon
 

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2005 Saffron Yellow Lotus Elise; 2008 Porsche Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1: 2011 Audi S4 Manual
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When we went over in 2017, we did it as a test drive that the dealer setup. Before going, I had requested an Exige 430 Cup because that was what I was looking at buying. They brought an Exige 430 CUP LHD and an Evora 410 Sport LHD. The Exige was a blast to drive and I talked with their production manager about getting a 430 Cup-R. At this time, the motorsports division was shutdown. The production manager told me it would be cheaper for me to buy a 311 R and a 430 Cup then have them build be a 430 Cup-R. :(

Since we were over there around Goodwood, I did get to ride in an Evora 430 GT up the hill. That was interesting but not all the exciting.

Since I could not get a 430 Cup-R, I have since purchased an Exige V6 Cup-R and I am in the process of making it an Exige 500 Cup-R.

Later,
Eldon
That sounds pretty awesome! 馃憤
 

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2020 Evora GT in Formula Red, coordinated black+red interior, windowed engine hatch
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Do they have Evoras to use during the three day package? I might seriously consider doing this but would want to learn the limits of the Lotus model I actually own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do they have Evoras to use during the three day package? I might seriously consider doing this but would want to learn the limits of the Lotus model I actually own.
No, it has just been the Elises and the Exige 410 on the Gold day (and Exige Cup on the Platinum day).
 
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