Lotus CEO Uses the Old ‘Test Drive’ Excuse to Fight 102 MPH Speeding Ticket
And somehow, it worked.
There's generally no easy way to dodge a hefty speeding ticket. Pleading ignorance rarely works, and neither does stealing the speed camera in question. But the CEO of British sports car manufacturer Lotus may have stumbled onto the perfect excuse this month when facing a year-long driving ban over a 102-mile-per-hour ticket: He was simply testing the company's latest high-performance model.
The Telegraph reports that Jean-Marc Gales was clocked doing triple-digit speeds in a 70-mph zone on the A11 motorway near the Lotus headquarters outside of Norwich, England. The 54-year-old CEO already has eight points on his driver's license, and this latest offense could have earned him an additional six points and a 12-month driving ban on the country's roads.
A lawyer for Gales appeared in court last week, arguing that although Lotus employs dedicated test drivers and engineers, his client still likes to personally test each of the company's new models. The defense claimed that it was in "everyone's interest" for Gales to continue to do so, and that the year-long ban would be untenable for Lotus. Gales is often credited with helping to engineer the iconic company's recent resurgence after decades of mismanagement.
Amazingly, the magistrate bought it. Despite the fact that Gales has a previous 96-mph speeding conviction on that very same highway, he was able to walk away with no new points on his license, a $940 fine, and a 30-day license suspension. The magistrate also warned him to "use somewhere else" for his test drives.
The exact model he was testing at the time isn't mentioned in the reports, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was the new 190-mph Lotus Evora GT430, which is billed as the most powerful car the company has ever built.
The comparatively light punishment may raise a few eyebrows—England is notoriously strict about speeding, and last year former F1 driver Susie Wolff lost her license for six months after getting nabbed doing 35 mph in a 30 zone—but Gales' lawyer told The Telegraph that the magistrate's ruling was a "common sense decision."
"There are people out there doing far worse. Someone driving at 35 mph on their mobile phone is far more dangerous," he said.