Crowds stunned as classic Lotus roars into action at launch of world's longest indoor testing site in Catesby

F1 engineering legends Mike Costin and Peter Wright joined crowds for what was a rather noisy affair in Catesby last week.
The Lotus roared through the tunnel.The Lotus roared through the tunnel.
The Lotus roared through the tunnel.

They were part of the official launch of Catesby Tunnel – the world’s longest indoor vehicle testing facility.

A classic Lotus 79 F1 car stunned guests by roaring through the tunnel last week.

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Jon Paton, group leader at Catesby Projects, said: "We are really proud to see the tunnel open and ready for customers. To have automotive and motorsport customers start to use the tunnel and to find out for themselves what makes Catesby so powerful is really exciting.”

The F1 engineers unveiled a plaque.The F1 engineers unveiled a plaque.
The F1 engineers unveiled a plaque.

Mike Costin founded Cosworth Engineering in 1958 with Keith Duckworth. It was their engine that powered the Lotus 79 and Mario Andretti to the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship. Peter Wright developed the pioneering ground effect theory while working for Lotus, which also undoubtedly contributed to the 1978 success.

Catesby Tunnel’s launch day marks the official beginning of a new era for the tunnel, which will see some of the world’s largest automotive companies and motorsport teams pulled to the Northamptonshire countryside to test in a repeatable and productive facility that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.

The event also included a presentation from Catesby Projects’ managing director Rob Lewis and talks from individuals who were crucial to the completion of the tunnel works.

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This part of the event was hosted at the newly-completed Catesby Innovation Centre situated on Catesby Park. The centre is designed to bring together local high-tech companies and offers businesses the opportunity to rent office space and access the quality business facilities, including meeting rooms and seminar space.

Catesby TunnelCatesby Tunnel
Catesby Tunnel

"The Lotus 79 was the perfect car for this event," said Mr Lewis.

"It was the foundation for ground effect vehicles and so important to the history of F1. To have Peter and Mike here also is the icing on the cake.

"It would have been easy to choose a modern car for the launch, but the historic nature of the Lotus ties in nicely with the history of the Catesby Tunnel and it’s new life as a test facility.”

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Cllr Jonathan Nunn from West Northamptonshire Council said: “It’s something for us to be really, really proud of. This operates on the world stage in terms of transport technology."

Peter Wright, ex-Lotus F1 world championship winning engineer, said: “This is the top of the range facility you can have for doing aerodynamic research."

Bookings are now being taken by Catesby Projects.

Further details can be found at www.catesbyprojects.comIf you would like the opportunity to visit the tunnel email [email protected]

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