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Esprit Driving Training

24th July 2005, Heyford, Oxfordshire

The Driver Training Day finally went ahead on the 24th July, after being cancelled once. A few Esprits couldn't make the new date, which was a shame, as they missed a great day. 20 odd Esprits turned up for the day, with a few other cars making up the day. Luckily it was mostly Loti present, with 3 Elises and 3 Lotus 7's (well that's what we're calling them). The Esprits ranged from Sport 350's to one lonely G-Turbo. We had Turbo's, SE's, S4, S4s, GT3 and V8's. So plenty to play with!


Meeting up at 9am, where we found the weather not to be too happy! Signing in at the tent that was to be refuge during breaks, everyone was broken up into 5 teams. The Elises, a 106 where kept together, the Lotus 7 when out together and 3 teams of Esprits. All named after Formula One teams.

Each group would do 6 different activities and rotate during the day, each lasting around 50 minutes. The winner of best driver would get a free Track Day! LEW's Esprit was in Team Renault with 4 other Esprits, a Turbo, S4, V8-GT and Sport 350. The rain continued and got worse!

Car Balance
Basically this was a salaom, with cones set out a increasing intervals. The idea was to go through the cones as quickly as possible without knocking any over. Turn around at the end and come back. Coming back proved more difficult as you're braking into the cones instead of speeding up. Also with the Esprit being wider at the rear, a few cones where clipped (meaning most knocked over!). This was designed for you to feel how the car loads up under turning, acceleration and braking. Hence the balance! As the cones where safely down the track, we didn't get any good pictures (too busy chatting, while the Esprits where taking out all the cones!)

Car Control
Basically the most fun you can have in an Esprit (well, almost). Two corners are set up, with cones marking out the route. Accelerating hard up to the corner at around 40-50mph in 2nd, when you reach the large cone, lift off the accelerator and turn in! This prompts the tail to step out! Then back on the gas and opposite lock to control the car and have a bit of '4 wheel drift' around the corner. In the wet his proved to be a little difficult and also a great deal of fun! LEW's Esprit managed quite a few 360° spins and even managed to get onto the grass! Below is a pic of one of the 7's in the grass! Unfortunately we couldn't get any good pictures due to safety.


Emergency Braking
This is more for cars without ABS. All the Esprits in our group had ABS, but still good fun and helps you understand what your car can do in extreme weather conditions. Accelerating to between 30-40mph in 2nd, hit the brakes at the first cones and then steer around the cone corner to safety! You'd be surprised just how well the Esprit where stopping on such a wet surface! It was raining constantly while we where doing this.

I'm sure those without ABS would gain more from this, but we still managed to come away with more understanding and experience of the stopping abilities of our Esprits.

Above middle and right car video clips of Rob's and Geoff Esprits doing the braking exercise. Worth a look!

Seating/Steering Control
Found this one tricky, as the cones route wasn't marked out clearly! I think everyone did a different route and no one did the same one twice. This was set up to work on basic steering control and was done slowly. Each time you could either cross your hands when steering (ie racing driver style) or shuffle (driving test style), but not both. Looking ahead and working out which was the order of the day! Roundabout and U-turn needed shuffling and cones crossing!


Driving Challenge
This one was timed and got quite competitive! Although the course changed throughout the day, so an overall was difficult. Follow the route and do it as fast as you can. Best time was from Dave Walters in his V8-GT at around 31 sec mark. See the video clip of Rob Ellis lap in his V8-GT below right for an idea of what was going on! We had plenty of runs and enjoyed beating the previous times. LEW's Esprit was getting plenty of understeer at the corner! Was braking very well with the PNM Brake Kits both front and rear! Very wet and lots of wheelspin!


After doing a quick quiz while the track was marked out, we the 'track' part of the day. A basic track was marked out with cones for us to race around. Each group went out together, with 5-7 cars out at a time. The Esprit's were getting upto 100mph on the straight, so it wasn't exactly tame, especially with the wet track, although the rain had eventually stopped by then. Great fun and no accidents!


Unfortnunately LEW's Esprit was the only one to get black-flagged for spinning out exiting one of the corners! Kato can be seen above looking for the banana skin that could be the only reason he didn't make it round the track!

All in all a good day. Rob Ellis won the driver of the day in his V8-GT and also won an award for spinning into the grass the most! Not sure how the two go together! A few left early, but no damage done on the day! The weather didn't hamper the day a far as the time in the cars. Tyre wear was greatly reduced and you learn the limits of your car far quicker in the wet than the dry. All the rain did was get us wet and stop us chatting too much!

This wasn't so much a driver training day, as a driver experiencing his car day. Tutorism was minimal, but everything was set up for experiencing what the car does and can do. This was the basic day, so maybe the other days available will give you more feedback. But for £99 it was a great day and well recommended. LEW might be back next year!

If you have any information or comment on this page. Feel free to e-mail at admin@lotusespritworld.com.

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