2008 Le Mans Series
Five Lola sportscars entered for Silverstone 1000kms LMP1 Coupe debut for RML Lola heads to its home race at Silverstone this weekend with five entries for Sunday’s Autosport Silverstone 1000kms, the final round of the 2008 Le Mans Series.
This year has proved an exciting season for the new Lola Coupe design in both LMP1 and LMP2 categories. A third example will be making its debut at Silverstone in the hands of 2007 LMP2 Champions RML.
The team becomes the fourth Lola Coupe customer since the car was revealed at the beginning of the 2008 season. Surprising the LMS paddock with its switch to the Coupe, RML will effectively be undertaking a testing session this weekend.
An initial shakedown test of the new model, christened the MG-Lola EX265C at Snetterton last Wednesday. RML’s sportscar team manager, Phil Barker said: “This has been an incredibly quick build and lots of people have been involved along the way at RML and Lola. The car ran without any significant problems at all.
To achieve such a level of basic reliability has been excellent and what little issues there have been, we’ve largely been able to iron-out during the course of the test day.” Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton are both relishing this new challenge and looking forward to racing the car on home turf, with Erdos saying: “This is day-one in the life of a new racing car and as such, I’m very excited about the whole thing. I’m also pleased that things have gone so smoothly. When you bring together all the complex systems of a race car like this, you’re always up against it when you decide to attempt something so major during mid-season.”
Charouz Racing System will give the striking LMP1 Lola Coupe its British debut at Silverstone with Jan Charouz and Stefan Mucke looking to continue what has so far been a competitive first year for the Aston Martin-powered Lola. A podium finish on the Lola’s debut at Barcelona in April, was followed by a credible 8th position at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Nürburgring then saw a stunning qualifying and a strong race performance, which has provided a platform for a great end to the season for Charouz Racing System at Silverstone this weekend.
Charouz Lola-Aston Martin racer Stefan Mucke said: “Following our good performance and result in the 1000 km Nürburgring race I am looking forward to Silverstone and hope that Jan and I can achieve a similar result there. I would also like to repeat my qualifying performance, which put us third on the grid in Germany.” Speedy Racing Team Sebah travel to Silverstone with plenty of optimism after showing that they are the only consistent LMP2 threat to the title winning Porsche LMP car.
The Judd powered Lola B08/80 driven by Xavier Pompidou, Steve Zacchia and Andrea Belicchi will thrive at the quick Northamptonshire circuit with the ‘slippery’ Lola Coupe. After a stunning debut at Barcelona in the first round where they finished 2nd in the LMP2 class, the striking, Michelin shod Lola has been stymied by persistent problems but has still proved to be one of the fastest LMP2 cars in the field. Few doubt that with a clear run they are a serious threat to the Porsche LMP2 entries.
Also in the hunt for top results in one of the UK’s top racing fixtures will be the Quifel-ASM and the Kruse-Schiller squads. The Portuguese based ASM team have proved that they are one of the leading LMP2 propositions in recent years and are racing with their familiar blue and black B05/40 that first tasted success as far back as the Spa 1000kms in 2005.
With the quick French driver Olivier Pla partnering team regular Miguel Amaral, the AER-powered Lola could be in the hunt for a potential podium position at the end of the 1000kms on Sunday, which would be their first of the season.
The Siegburg-based Kruse Schiller team arrive at Silverstone aiming for a solid result after finding improved pace at Nurburgring last month. Only a persistent clutch problem stopped them from scoring some healthy points at their home race then. Jean De Pourtales and
Hideki Noda will once again drive the Lola-Mazda LMP2 with team boss Kai Kruse confident they can finish on a real high at Silverstone after what has proved a trying year for the team.
The Le Mans Series finale starts at 11.20 bst on Sunday. Motors TV will be showing the race live. Commentary can also be heard on radiolemans.com