Lola sportscar entries got ready for the 76th running of the 24 Heures Du Mans (14-15 June) at the official test day at Le Mans, on Sunday 1 June.
Seven Lola cars are entered this year for the world’s toughest endurance race, the marque’s largest entry since 1979. With more entries than any other prototype manufacturer, Lola are also the only constructor to have all four prototype designs with both LMP1 and LMP2 Coupe and open designs racing this year. Lola will also be aiming to score a record fourth consecutive LMP2 victory and the fifth class win in the last six races. Making its Le Mans debut this year are both the B08/60 LMP1 Coupe and the B08/80 LMP2 Coupe.
The LMP1 example of Charouz Racing System, which is powered by a V12 Aston Martin engine set the 9th fastest time, but with conditions mostly wet, the times were not representative. Tomas Enge, Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz all completed laps in the Aston Martin powered Lola LMP1 Coupe, which was the first time the car has run in wet conditions.
So far this season the team has been the clear pace setter among the petrol cars and its aims for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours are again to be at the head of the pack chasing the three Audi R10’s and three Peugeot cars.
The Speedy Sebah team was getting used to running their new Lola LMP2 Coupe / Judd package at Le Mans and their priority was to ensure that Le Mans rookie, Steve Zacchia completed the mandatory 10 laps. Whilst Zacchia completed his 10 laps, there was a small incident involving Xavier Pompidou on the Mulsanne Straight, but damage to the Anglo/Swiss Lola was minimal. Speaking about the team’s test day, Team Principal, Hugh Hayden said: “You never stop learning, but with a new car the hill is steeper.
Qualifying was number one priority and we achieved that. After that it was refamiliarising the other drivers and we achieved that. What we did not achieve was working on the race set-up. We can handle the conditions but it’s not worth risking anything. We have a good package. I think the competition is strong and we will try and give them a race. Consistency, compatibility of drivers and reliability are key, whilst keeping it on the track and out of the box.”
The RML team had a successful test day with the MG powered Lola LMP2 car. The two-times LMP2 champions with the familiar trio of Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace had a trouble-free day at La Sarthe. The team believe that they have every chance of making it a unique hat trick of LMP2 success in two weeks time.
The Portuguese Quifel-ASM LMP2 had a frustrating day at Le Mans with technical problems restricting the team’s track time. Olivier Pla did however complete his rookie laps as did Guy Smith, who despite winning the event in 2003 and finishing runner-up a year later, still had to complete the laps due to the fact of not having driven at the circuit since 2004.
The new look Kruse-Schiller squad re-grouped after a difficult Spa LMS race to ensure that their drivers all got adequate time in the Mazda powered Lola LMP2 car. The German squad has drafted in experienced Frenchman Jean Francois Yvon in to the team to join Japanese racer Hideki Noda and the London domiciled Frenchman, Jean De Pourtales.
Entered under the Charouz Racing System banner but working as an American run Cytosport team, the Muscle Milk liveried Lola-Judd LMP1 had a solid day of running at Le Mans yesterday. Team owner and driver Greg Pickett familiarised himself with the 13.65kms circuit and thoroughly enjoyed the experience after a season competing in the American Le Mans Series in 2007. Pickett, the 1978 Trans-Am Champion partners up with Klaus Graf and Jan Lammers, ensuring plenty of experience is on offer for the team’s Le Mans debut, with Lammers competing in his 21st Le Mans this year.
The trio enjoyed a trouble free day, ending the session 12th fastest, an encouraging start for the US based team.
Chamberlain Synergy chose not to risk their Lola-AER too much during the difficult conditions and the Hugh Chamberlain led team focused on making sure that Amanda Stretton got her 10 rookie laps completed. She did this without a problem and she will become the first British woman to race at Le Mans since Juliette Slaughter in 1978 (driving a Dorset Racing Lola T294). Amanda will share the driving duties with husband Bob Berridge and Gareth Evans.
LOLA AT LE MANS Lola celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2008 and marking its Golden anniversary will be a special feature at the 2008 Grande Parade Des Pilots in the centre of Le Mans on Friday 13th June. Fans will be able to see some of Lola’s most famous designs on the streets of the famous town and also be able to get copies of the official 50th anniversary Lola poster, depicting a design from 1958’s Lola Mk1 through to the latest Lola LMP Coupe design of 2008.