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The Disruptors: Can this man help Team GB cyclists to secure olympic gold?

PUBLISHED: 10:49 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 05 February 2020

The new Olympic track bike has been meticulously designed in collaboration between Lotus and Hope Technology to deliver outstanding track performance. Lotus has created the unique front forks and handlebars, while Hope Technology developed the frame.         Photo: James Cheadle/Lotus

The new Olympic track bike has been meticulously designed in collaboration between Lotus and Hope Technology to deliver outstanding track performance. Lotus has created the unique front forks and handlebars, while Hope Technology developed the frame. Photo: James Cheadle/Lotus

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The secret to designing the perfect Olympic track bike? “Pushing regulations to the limit,” says Richard Hill, the Lotus engineer hoping to help Team GB clinch cycling gold this summer.

Richard Hill, chief engineer of Aerodynamics and Thermal Management at Lotus, is currently collaborating on a track bike due to be used by Team GB cyclists at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics   Picture: LotusRichard Hill, chief engineer of Aerodynamics and Thermal Management at Lotus, is currently collaborating on a track bike due to be used by Team GB cyclists at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Picture: Lotus

The Disruptors video series features the progressive East Anglia businesses challenging their respective fields. The latest in a 5-part mini-series exploring the history of innovation at Lotus, we meet the protagonists who have quite literally driven change.

Rigorous testing and racing over hairpin bends on mountain passes is all in a day's work for Richard Hill, the engineer with the final say on aerodynamics and thermal management at Lotus.

The focus of the latest in our The Disruptors video series [watch the film below] Richard recalls the moment cyclist Chris Boardman clinched an Olympic gold at Barcelona 1992 on the Lotus Type 108, and shares his secret to enduring industry disruption.

Now, 28 years later after he spent hours fine-tuning the Lotus Type 108's aerodynamics in a wind tunnel with Chris Boardman, Richard is collaborating on the HB.T, a track bike due to be raced by Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer.

In the video, Richard admits he's constantly pushing Union Cycliste Internationale regulations to the limit and forever looking for opportunities to improve design.

As well as his work with Team GB, he also collaborates with the exterior designers of all new Lotus vehicles, from concepting to testing pre-production prototypes. His goal? Maintaining the world-class vehicle dynamic characteristics for which Lotus is renowned.

Meet Richard Hill, the engineer who hopes to help Team GB cyclists win gold.

Favourite Lotus: The Type 18 in 1960 was the first true mid-engined Lotus Formula 1 car and eventually led to the first mid-engined Lotus road car, the Lotus Europa of 1967.

Favourite driving road: I've been fortunate to drive exotic sports cars in extraordinary places, from the Australian outback to frozen lakes in the Arctic Circle.

Richard Hill working on the prototype of the Lotus Type 108 superbike, the bike that cycling legend Chris Boardman raced when he won gold at the 1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona.     Photo: LotusRichard Hill working on the prototype of the Lotus Type 108 superbike, the bike that cycling legend Chris Boardman raced when he won gold at the 1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona. Photo: Lotus

But a favourite of mine is a regular 1,700 mile test trip we take from Norfolk, over the Alps and down to the heel of Italy.

We use two Alpine routes in particular, the Grossglockner pass in Austria and the Stelvio pass in northern Italy. The Stelvio is more than 9,000 ft high and has more than 50 hairpin bends - a fantastic test of human and machine!

Desert island disc: Queen's 1975 album 'A Night at the Opera' was a seminal album during my teenage years.

Claim to fame: I was the second person Chris Boardman hugged when he won Olympic gold in Barcelona - his wife was rightly first!

Cyclist Ed Clancy test rides the new Hope and Lotus track bike for British Cycling at the Manchester Velodrome. Photo: James Cheadle/LotusCyclist Ed Clancy test rides the new Hope and Lotus track bike for British Cycling at the Manchester Velodrome. Photo: James Cheadle/Lotus

The Disruptors is a video series highlighting the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge businesses shaking up their respective industries. Read more and follow the series here.

READ MORE: Lotus designer reflects on the brand's history of doing things differently


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