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Classic Team Lotus’ world-beating F1 cars to wow festival crowds

Wednesday, August 15 2012

Classic Team Lotus will have a strong presence at this weekend's Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch (18/19 August), celebrating an association that has delighted Formula 1 fans. Two championship-winning cars headline a stunning quartet of Grand Prix racers.

Founded by Lotus founder Colin Chapman's son Clive, Classic Team Lotus provides an enduring link to the marque's golden days in F1. Several of the original team's mechanics are employed by the outfit, which restores and maintains the cars on behalf of their owners, as well as providing race and event support.

The Type 49 is one of the most influential F1 cars of all time. Originally introduced in 1967 to the sport's new 3 litre rules, it was powered by the Cosworth DFV engine that dominated the category until the early 1980s. With the new era placing a premium on chassis dynamics, Lotus set the ball rolling by incorporating the power plant as a stressed member of the chassis. Saving weight and increasing stiffness, the practice is still in use.

The 49 was introduced too late to have an influence on the 1967 World Championship but the following year Graham Hill powered to the title in the 49B, one of which will be appearing this weekend. In another of Chapman's innovations, this time commercial, it was painted in the colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes, taking the sport away from wealthy individuals. The 49 also pioneered aerodynamic wings and three years after its introduction, helped Jochen Rindt on the way to the 1970 title.

Ten years on from the 49B, the Type 79 took Mario Andretti to the marque's last World Championship. Typically it was another discovery that powered it to the top of the table, this time 'ground effect' aerodynamics. Rather than bolting wings onto a chassis, the entire car was sculpted to take advantage of airflow and in Mario's words it cornered as if it was 'painted to the road'. Ever since then, aerodynamics have been central to single seater design, as evidenced by Red Bull and Adrian Newey's recent success.

Despite no more championships coming Team Lotus' way since the late 70s, the arrival of Ayrton Senna in 1985 gave them added impetus. The Renault turbo-powered Type 97T provided the brilliant Brazilian's debut win in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with further victories at Spa as well as San Marino for team mate Elio de Angelis.

The team's final hurrah before being sold to a private consortium was the 1990 Type 102. Unique for being the only Lotus powered by a V12 engine, the Lamborghini power unit is an aural delight. Derek Warwick was joined by Martin Donnelly, with Johnny Herbert taking over after the Ulsterman's career-ending accident in Spain.

Donnelly will be present throughout the event, and in addition to racing in the headline Lotus Cup UK race, will be taking part in the F1 demonstration runs, scheduled for 1:20pm and 4:45pm on the Sunday. Clive Chapman is also expected to take the wheel of one of his father's creations.

Tickets for the Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch this weekend are available on the gate for £21, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.