He was embarrassed about getting caught on the A11, a fairly straight dual-carriageway that runs past Hethel on the way to Norwich. It happened while driving a prototype of the Evora 410 last January. "I was focused like hell on the car," he said. A police BMW clocked him from behind, the policeman who emerged recognising him but booking him anyway.
Gales insists he has the final say on the car's road manners. "I check that the car doesn't feel nervous, that it feels like an average driver can handle on the road, has a nice balance between ride and handling," he said. "And it can't have noises I don't like." Sign-off for him takes an hour, usually in the evening after he's finished work. Now he can't (the ban came into force directly after the court case) until well into February. He's also £832 lighter. No doubt Bahar would have hired a chauffeur in this situation, but Gales has done extremely well to drag Lotus out of the financial hole dug by his predecessor and that's partly because the company "turns around every pound twice" before deciding to spend it. So currently he's being picked up each morning by his head of manufacturing.
Norwich magistrates were unlikely go too hard on Gales. The city has recently lost two high-profile companies, first when Britvic announced last year it was shutting its plant there and then earlier this year when Colman's Mustard, owned by Unilever, confirmed its exit. True, Lotus might not yet be in profit (this is the year, Gales promised), but Gales has certainly stabilised the company's finances to the point the company was viable enough to trigger a bidding war to buy it last year when Proton put it up for sale.
Staff numbers fell to around 800 but are now scheduled to rise again as the company can once more plan new models, something that hasn't happened since the Evora was launched back in 2009. There's even cautious talk of doing something with the giant, two-storey-high production hall that Bahar started but now lies abandoned; a soggy-bottomed skeleton reminding Lotus employees of past excesses on a daily basis.
As new cars come on stream, these parts will now come from Geely, allowing Lotus to take advantage of premium Volvo bits, for example. "Geely has many nice parts; that's the important thing, that they have bits to allow us to make a class-leading sports car," he said. The chassis will still have to be bespoke, but headlights, electrical systems and so on will come from Geely or their global suppliers, complete with pre-negotiated discounts and reliable quality. "Sports suppliers are notoriously unreliable sometimes," he added.
What happens to the £30,000 Elise in the new era is another question. "I frankly believe manufacturers of small sports cars will find it tough to survive," he says, without explicitly answering the question of whether the Elise will or won't be a survivor. Increased legislation and the need to turn a profit conspire against it. "Sales volumes are notoriously low, investment is notoriously high so you need to do your investment well. So it's not an easy task, but the juicy markets seem to be a bit more upmarket," he said.
So maybe it's time for another Esprit? "For brand building Lotus needs something above the Evora," he agreed. "It needs a poster car again."