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F1 demonstrations wow Snetterton crowd at the Lotus Festival

Sunday, June 26 2011

Spectators at the Snetterton circuit have been treated to the first of three breathtaking displays of classic Formula One cars this morning. The selection of Team Lotus' finest took to the new 300 circuit for a nostalgic reminder from the days of Clark, Andretti and Piquet.

Classic Team Lotus, which is run by Colin Chapman's son Clive, looks after most of the F1 cars that are running on the circuit today. The organisation provides restoration and track support, and has many former Team Lotus mechanics on its roster.

The Type 25 that brought Lotus and Jim Clark their first World Championships, was joined by the Type 18, 58 and 102. The latter, in yellow Camel livery and freshly restored, was driven in 1990 by Martin Donnelly. He is competing today in the Lotus Cup UK championship, starting from pole position.

Donnelly said, "Lotus and Snetterton are like a marriage. The F1 cars were tested here, including in '89 and '90 for me. I don't think you could have the Festival anywhere else and if this year is like last, it will be a phenomenal success.

"I came here in '84 as a young spotty lad," Donnelly continued, "and I've been stuck here for the last 27 years. My kids have Norfolk accents, even if I've kept my Irish brogue!"

A Type 101 from 1989 was also seen, driven in anger by owner Steve Griffiths, who also runs the car. The 101 was originally driven by Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima.

A Type 79 run by Classic Team Lotus will be seen later on, the car that made Mario Andretti World Champion. Clive Chapman, who arrived at the circuit in his father's Galaxie 500, said, "it's really nice with customer support to have a varied and interesting display of Team Lotus history and a bit of a treat to have three twenty minute sessions, so we're making the most of it."

The cars will be out again at 11:40 and 16:30 today and there is also a Group Lotus demonstration at 15:25.

Tickets for the Lotus Festival are available on the gate for £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under.