That someone would be none other than Matt Becker, son of Roger Becker - ex-chassis engineer and Esprit stunt driver in The Spy Who Loved Me. During the 90s, Matt was part of the team developing the Elise alongside Gavan Kershaw and Dave Minter. Countless hours were spent honing spring and damper rates, tyre construction and suspension geometry. There were never-ending laps of Hethel and probably more than a few trips up and down the B1135. Now Chief Engineer - Vehicle Attributes, it is his job to ensure the Lotus DNA lives on in every current and future car to come out of Hethel.
what to upgrade. Nitrons with stiffer spring and dampers replaced the S2 Bilsteins a year after I bought it (the original Konis having long gone). At the same time the ride height was lowered by 35mm at the front and 25mm at the rear, toe and camber settings were altered and the tyres changed to Yokohama Advan Neovas (original Sport 135s came with Pirellis). Plenty of opportunity, then, to undo all the hard work originally achieved by Matt and the team. At least Lotus isn't renowned for its ride and handling. Oh, hang on...
With a busy schedule, Matt didn't waste any time sliding into the driver's seat, and before we'd even moved he was making observations. "You've got free play in the throttle pedal, and the steering rack grommet needs a greasing. But it's the quirky things like this that make them interesting."
During that first lap his inputs were measured and precise, forming a well-choreographed routine instilled from decades of evaluating cars. The response to every action was registered and fed into that extensive data bank of experience to build a picture of how it would react at the limit.
By the time we came round to the long, ever-tightening Andretti corner, Matt was ready to explore those limits. After turning in on the brakes and applying a generous helping of throttle, the back end loosened its grip on the sodden Tarmac. With quick but calm hands, Matt caught the slide, kept the accelerator pinned and drifted neatly around the entire bend.
The rest of the laps were conducted in a similar vein, with both Andretti corner and the zero-run-off Rindt hairpin being treated with consistent arse-out disdain.
When the fun eventually came to a halt Matt was ready to deliver his verdict. "It's very well balanced and the transition between understeer and oversteer was quite linear. It's just as I remember really: they're very fun; they're accessible. They're not the fastest, but you can play with the car. Actually, if anything this feels better balanced than we used to have. It's more benign than I remember. "
So, no excuses then, and at least I now know it's not the car that's holding me back.
Car: 1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Homecoming results in thumbs up from Lotus' ride and handling guru.