Monday, August 13 2012
This weekend's Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch (18/19 August) will celebrate the marque's many successes on the track. However one of the greatest and most influential on display has just two wheels and no engine!
Whilst a great deal of current Formula 1 design owes much to Lotus, the success of British Cycling, responsible for so many of Team GB's Gold Medals, can also be traced back to the Norfolk marque. Just days after the Olympic closing ceremony, visitors will get a rare chance to see the innovation that started the two-wheeled revolution.
Twenty years ago Lotus lent their considerable expertise to create a bike that would transform the sport of track cycling. Using a knowledge of exotic materials gained from years at the cutting edge of motorsport, the aerofoil monocoque was just part of the concept. The key innovation came from the positioning of the rider; previously little attention was paid to this but after hours in the windtunnel a combination that reduced drag to a minimum was found.
The bike was an instant success and in the 1992 Barcelona Games, Chris Boardman broke the world record on the way to a Gold Medal in the velodrome, Britain's first for 74 years. He later set the world hour record too and the design was so successful that the rules of cycling were later changed, effectively banning it from further competition.
However the genie was already out of the bottle. Lotus developed a road version of the bike, the Type 110, which was used by Boardman on the 1994 Tour de France and helped him to claim the coveted Yellow Jersey. British interest in cycling was reawakened and momentum soon built up. Bradley Wiggins' historic Tour win and Time Trial Gold Medal, plus Team GB's domination of the velodrome owes much to the Lotus Sport project that started twenty years ago.
The pursuit bike will appear at Brands Hatch this weekend, just weeks before it stages the Paralympic Road Cycling events, which is due to feature former Lotus driver Alex Zanardi.
Tickets for the Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch on 18/19 August are available in advance from £17, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.