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Litespeed to run as Team Lotus

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Big news just in – the Team Lotus name will be back on the F1 grid for the first time since 1995 if Litespeed’s entry is accepted. The F3 team has struck a deal with David Hunt, who bought the rights to the Team Lotus name back in 1995, to use the name in its application. The team is run by former Lotus engineers, Nino Judge and Steve Kenchington, with former Lotus racer Johnny Herbert recruited as driver manager and commercial ambassador, and is based in Lotus’ home county of Norfolk. Mike Gascoyne, who is designing the team’s car, is also Norfolk-born.

The team is set to operate out of the Racing Technology Norfolk facility in Hingham, previously the HQ of the Percival Hodges F1 powerboat team and TOM’s GB. Since then, it was the base where the Le Mans-winning Bentley prototypes were built.

This is major news. Not only does the confirmation of the team’s plans vastly increase its credibility, the return of the name of one of the greatest F1 teams of all time to the grid is bound to be PR (green and) gold dust to the Litespeed boys. The last time the Team Lotus name was on the grid was back in 1995 when David Hunt basically allowed the Pacific team to use the Team Lotus name, although the team itself had shut down after the end of the 1994 season. It didn’t do Pacific any good at all as they were still rubbish, but unlike them, Lotus are much missed in F1. They are a massive name in F1 history as one of the most revolutionary and successful teams of all time, still in 4th position in the wins, poles and starts tables for constructors below only Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. The team’s traditional green and gold colours, and later the famous black and gold JPS liveries, became iconic F1 images, with the likes of Moss, Clark, Hill, Rindt, Fittipaldi, Peterson, Andretti, Mansell, Senna, Piquet and Hakkinen all piloting the cars from Hethel.

We now have prospective entries from March, Brabham, Lola and Lotus, 4 of the greatest constructors in British motor racing history, as well as a potential future entry from Aston Martin. It couldn’t be better for Mosley. Although some will remain unconvinced as some of these teams are merely new teams “dressed up” with old names (in this case, given that Judge, Kenchington and Herbert are former Lotus employees, that’s hardly completely distant, is it?), it certainly would shut Ferrari up, because these are hardly unknown names. “Formula GP3”, eh?

(It’s worth noting at this point that the Lotus racing team and road car division were separated many years before the end of the racing team’s spell in F1 in 1994. Presumably Proton, the current owner of Lotus’ road car division, will not object to the return of the Team Lotus name to F1 – something to look out for in the same way as the potential legal dispute between Formtech and Jack Brabham over the use of the Brabham name.)

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Written by James Bennett

June 7, 2009 at 00:34

Posted in F1 teams

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