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Lotus to reach 500th F1 race

2010-06-15 07:16
London - Lotus hailed a turning point after lapping F1's other new teams in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

Finland's Heikki Kovalainen may not have been any nearer the Malaysian-owned team's first points since their race debut in March, finishing 16th, but he did lap rivals HRT and Virgin at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

He was also as high as sixth at one point, as the frontrunners pitted for fresh tyres, and finished ahead of Renault's Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov. Both of the Saubers also retired in his wake.

"This weekend marked a big turning point for us as a new team," said technical head Mike Gascoyne.

"We nearly out-qualified one of the Renaults, we were racing throughout the race with the midfield teams. Okay, some of them had got delayed but we were genuinely racing them. And we lapped all the other new teams.

"It was a big step forward. Instead of just trying to be the best of the new teams, now we are trying to get on to the back of the established teams. And that's exactly where we wanted to be at this stage of the season," the Briton told the BBC.

While the new Lotus Racing has been in business for just eight races, the marque has now started 499 races since the original team made its debut with their late founder Colin Chapman in 1958.

The Norfolk-based team, conscious of its motor racing heritage, has been keeping the tally on the pit-lane wall and intend to mark the 500th in style at Spain's Valencia circuit in two weeks' time.

"It's something we've been very aware of," said Gascoyne. "Clive Chapman (Colin's son) and members of the Chapman family will be joining us for the 500th Grand Prix.

"It's a special thing for us as the new Lotus team and I think it's right that we recognise that heritage and hopefully people will enjoy watching Lotus go racing again."

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