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Dany Bahar Always Has Hidden Agendas Up His Sleeve

Friday, September 8th, 2017

History decrees that through the ages, the great and the wonderful have had hidden agendas. The phrase is synonymous with those who have worked in one direction but who have also had a successful plan to bring up the rear.

Not everyone has been successful with their hidden agendas… take Hitler for example: the worst move he made during World War 2 was to try to take on the USSR. His campaign resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths, both from his own military and of course, from the Russian defences. Did it win him the war? No – it was a miscalculated move which Hitler thought would be his hidden agenda into furthering his might across the world.

Equally, if we are to take the same period in history as example, Winston Churchill had his own hidden agendas up his sleeve… but fate played its hand and, as analysts have since proven, some of his plans should not have actually worked if it hadn’t have been for ‘the enemy’ messing up theirs… A sorry tale for Europe if the inevitable were to have happened.

Just last week, in the Spa during the Belgian Grand Prix, Louis Hamilton’s ‘hidden agenda’ – or could it have been miscalculation – resulted in him crashing out and losing vital points in the championship table. As a journalist with a keen eye on the motorsport industry, I know what it’s like to have a hidden agenda… theoretically a Plan B when other things go rather awry.

Newspaper and magazine deadlines mean having a second trump card up your sleeve in case the first ‘sensational story’ doesn’t come through. Hidden agendas mean living on your wits and always having that follow up plan well watered and ready to pull out of the hat.

Clichéd though it may sound, I know what it’s like to live on your wits… and this is why I am impressed by the way that Dany Bahar has been bringing more rabbits out of the hat than there are warrens since he took over as CEO at Lotus Group nearly two years ago.

I’ve been following his progress – as you will have noted through this column – for some time now and have been suitably impressed with the way he might walk in one direction then do an about turn. And he carries it off… that’s no mean feat!

I once asked Bahar if he had a hidden agenda and he was perhaps just a little coy. Unusual for this man who has had more hidden agendas than others have had hot dinners, I thought at the time.

It would be difficult to tell if he came to Group Lotus as the new Proton protégé to take over the CEO position without a hidden agenda. I think, when you have reached such echelons in the corporate world, you have an alternative plan buried away in your brain… to pull out at the last moment when other ideas go wrong.

Bahar looked me in the eye and answered my question with deliberation: “I truly believe that everyone has an agenda. Some people don’t know it, but everyone has one and I like to think that I’m good at working out peoples’ needs and motivations pretty quickly,” he told me. Adding – quite succinctly – “That helps in business.”

Business is where Bahar belongs… he’s already proven his mettle with Red Bull and Ferrari and now he’s proving it at Group Lotus, despite the fact that he probably has more adversaries than followers, it may seem, reading through the negative comments on his progress so far at Lotus.

He’s managed to fight his way through the barbed wire – and the barbaric tongues from those who do not hold a light to his candle – and he’s pulling the company through. He’s determined to meet the requirements set down on the ‘agenda’ he was given when he accepted the job as CEO at Group Lotus. He knew that there were problems in the background, little eruptions smouldering away while he tried to put a smile on things and ensure everyone that all was going to be well.

I firmly believe that it will be well. Proton loves him. He’s a breath of fresh air. They may not specifically appreciate some of his ‘off-the-wall’ decisions of the past few weeks, but they totally appreciate that Bahar is his own man. He calls the shots, the rest follow on.

He watched as Bruno Senna braked too late for the first corner in the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, but he breathed a sigh of relief as Senna managed to capture seventh on the final grid. Bahar has been there – perhaps not behind the wheel of a Lotus-driven Grand Prix car in an F1 event, but in other situations. He’s out-manoeuvred others to show that he has the skill to be top dog in whatever he lends his hand to.

You know what? Bahar has more tricks up his many sleeves than his critics give him credit for… when will the next rabbit jump out from his rather copious hat? Watch this space because he’s on to a winner here! And his hidden agenda has still not manifested itself!

Drifting on at High Speeds!

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Catching the Drift?

…Now everyone knows that the drifters of this world tend not to move that quickly. They were pretty slow when walking to school; they were slow at responding to questions…they even picked their noses slowly. So what does that title mean, ‘drifting on at high speeds’?

Well if all truth be known, we’re talking about a sport that is growing at a phenomenal rate…Drifting. A motorsport that is often thought of as a bunch of smoking tyres in a car park near you.

In fact, this is not so much the case anymore. Events like The British Drift Championship in the UK attract huge crowds and make for a great day out for all the family. They have 6 races that make up the championship so seeing them all is not really practical but catching them at a location close to you for one or two might not be too difficult.

A Drifting History Lesson

UK

The first documented account of drifting dates back to the 1930s when a driver who was trying to sell a lot of sports cars (the Auto Union D-Type racing car), purposefully put his car into a sliding drift whilst navigating a corner. The surviving footage clearly shows the driver putting styling his driving similar to the grand prix drivers of the day.

Japan

Through the 70s it was big in Japan and a few racing and boy racing drivers featured heavily in the popularity stakes, making it a well followed sport.

Outside of Japan

Believe it or not, one of the earliest OFFICIAL drift events outside of Japan was recorded as late as 1993, held at Willowsprings raceway in California. The Japanese magazine ‘Option’ and its editors came and hosted the event, which proved a massive success and has since exploded in popularity.

Drifting – the Science

Officially, one is ‘drifting’ when half way through a maths lesson, ones head starts to gently rock back and forth…No, that’s not it. Well it is but… Anyway…Officially, in the motorsport that is drifting, the angle of the rear wheels to the apex of the corner needs to be greater than the angle of the front wheels to the apex of the corner. Roughly speaking, if you’re kinda going sideways around a bend and there’s a lotta smoke coming off your tyres… you’re drifting!

The perfect drift car

Probably due to the heritage of the sport, so many of the cars used for drifting are Japanese. Popular examples are the Mazda RX7, Toyota Altezza and the Toyota Supra. All of these cars are rear wheel drive which is an essential characteristic of any drift car. If you’re front wheel drive and you try to drift you will likely end up in a bush.

Upgrades?

One essential upgrade for any of these cars to be able to drift well is for them to have a diff transplant to make the rear wheels turn at the same (or very similar) speeds and for there to be no give in the clutch. Some simply weld their rear wheel axes’ together which has pretty much the same effect.

Other than the diff, the only other essential upgrade is a good set of stickers. This makes all the difference and gets the girls round your car (joke)! Oh and the roll cage and the hydraulic handbrake and… Yes, there’s a lot of stuff but the feeling you get when you’re sliding sideways round a corner makes you forget about all the receipts!!