Lola sportscars were in action at the weekend’s Nurburgring 1000kms race (17 August 2008) in Germany, with five Huntingdon built Le Mans Prototype cars across the LMP1 and LMP2 classes battling their rivals. Once again the new Lola B08/60 LMP1 Coupe of Charouz Racing System proved to be the quickest privateer car taking 5th place overall and finishing as the best placed non-diesel entry. The Aston Martin powered Lola had taken qualifying by storm with an excellent performance that ensured a best ever 3rd place for the team on the starting grid, ahead of both the Audi R10 entries.
Stefan Mucke, racing at his home circuit, set the qualifying time and was highly delighted with the Lola Coupe, which featured a new tub for this weekend. “Already this morning I felt that I am more confident with the brand new car,” concluded the German. “We were waiting till the end of the qualifying before I went out. The first lap was not ideal; other cars slowed me a bit. However, the second lap was perfect and brought third place to us. I am so happy that I managed to get this result in front of my home fans.”
The race started well for the Charouz Lola with Mucke holding 3rd place in the early running. After the first pit stops Mucke settled in a comfortable 5th place overall until he was hit by another LMP car, necessitating an unscheduled pit stop to replace some of the rear legalising panels.
Later on in the race when Mucke’s team mate, Jan Charouz took over, the Lola proved itself to be as strong as it is quick when it survived further contact from a GT2 car. A quick spin later in his stint lost the Czech driver minimal time and he set some quick race laps, bringing the Lola home fifth to score more points. The similar Lola coupe run in LMP2 by Speedy Racing Team Sebah suffered a frustrating weekend with persistent electrical problems.
Despite this, Andrea Belicchi qualified in third position in class, just behind the Porsche LMP2 Spyders. The Italian began the race and held his 3rd place until some debris in rear wheel arch damaged the tail of the Lola and the team quickly changed the rear bodywork of the car.
From there Belichhi drove superbly and was quickly up in to 2nd place in class and looking comfortable in matching the Lola- Judd’s debut runners-up place at Barcelona in April. Sadly however this progress was halted when electrical problems intervened in the third hour causing long pit stops and ensuring that the Lola-Judd fell down the order.
Belichhi’s team mates Xavier Pompidou and Steve Zacchia completed the race and the Judd powered Lola finished in 9th place in LMP2, frustratingly just out of the points. But the team can once again say that they were the only true challengers on pace to the Porsche LMP2 cars again this weekend. Finishing 5th and 6th respectively in LMP2 was the Quifel-ASM and the RML teams. Despite some impressive lap times in practice and qualifying, both teams had more than their fair share of problems during the 1000kms. The Portuguese Quifel-ASM squad were on a high after completing their first Le Mans 24 Hours race in June and arrived at the Nurburgring believing a podium was achievable.
Their race was looking good in the early running as Olivier Pla held a solid 4th place just behind Belicchi’s Lola. That soon became 3rd place in the second hour with the Frenchman showing some very impressive pace in the AER powered Lola B05/40. The third hour signalled trouble for Pla’s team mate, when Migiel Amaral spun and lost time before the Portuguese driver was hit from behind by the GT2 Spyker.
This caused damage to the rear legalising panels and several stops were needed to effect repairs. RML started the weekend off well with Tommy Erdos showing promising pace in the free practice sessions. Difficulties in getting a clear lap in qualifying saw them in an unaccustomed 9th place on the grid.
A relatively trouble free run to 6th position in the race gathered more points for the Wellinborugh based team and they now look forward to Silverstone in September which promises to be a very special home race for the reigning LMP2 champions. Kruse Schiller Motorsport had a difficult home event with the Mazda powered Lola LMP2 car coming home 10th in class after being delayed throughout with clutch problems.
Hideki Noda and Jean De Pourtales had shown encouraging signs during the weekend but an early pit stop confirmed the mechanical issues and despite some excellent work by the team they persisted throughout the race. This made it extremely difficult for the drivers to pull away after a pit stop.
Lola now looks forward to their home race at Silverstone on September 14 when at least five entries will provide more spectacular action in the Autosport 1000kms.