Lola sportscars are aiming to challenge for outright race wins and class titles this weekend as they kick off the 2009 Le Mans Series at Barcelona.
LMP1 and LMP2 Lola designs will be challenging the previously all-powerful Audi and Porsche sportscars in a five-date season that culminates at Silverstone in September.
Seven Lola entries ensure the Huntingdon constructor is the most represented in the field this weekend. With five teams running Lola sportscars and with four different engine installations and three distinct sportscar models in the field, Lola again lead the way in global endurance competition for customer teams.
LMP1 – Strength in Depth
As well as supplying some of the very best sportscar teams on the planet, Lola also have a rich history of working with major manufacturers. Previous programmes include those with GM and Nissan in the 1980’s and early 90’s and MG in the early part of the present decade.
2009 will be no exception as Aston Martin Racing has chosen Lola designed and built sportscars to contest both the LMS and the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Two Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 LMP1 Coupes make their competitive debut in Spain this weekend.
Speedy Sebah enjoyed much promise with its Judd powered Lola LMP2 in 2008 with a fine runners-up debut at Barcelona. This year the Anglo/Swiss team doubles its effort with an LMP1 entry powered by an Aston Martin V12 engine.
Nicholas Prost, son of four-time World F1 champion Alain, makes his sportscar bow and is joined by two very quick teammates, Marcel Fassler and Andrea Belicchi. A test at Portimao in Portugal last week was very encouraging for the team and they anticipate a strong showing at the Circuit Catalunya this weekend.
The team have added to their engineering strength this year with Steve Wills (LMP1) and Ian Smith (LMP2) working closely with Lola’s own Adam Airey (LMP2)
LMP2 – One mission: The title!
Lola LMP2 sportscar teams are determined to bring the title back to Huntingdon this year.
There are four strong entries in this class with Speedy Sebah, RML, Racing Box and Kruse-Schiller all committed to the series in 2009.
Speedy Sebah’s LMP2 entry retains Judd power and Xavier Pompidou this season. Ulsterman, Jonny Kane and Swiss driver Benjamin Leuenberger join the Frenchman this year. Both have previous LMP experience, Kane as a works Lola-MG driver and Leuenberger with Panoz.
After committing to the all-new Lola LMP2 Coupe last season, RML have had a busy start to the year gaining miles on the Mazda powered Lola B09/86 at Snetterton, Paul Ricard and Portimao ahead of this weekends curtain raiser.
Once again Tommy Erdos will partner Mike Newton in the familiarly liveried Lola LMP2 Coupe. The slick Wellinborough based squad will strive to repeat their 2007 LMS title triumph, as they undertake their fifth season of LMS competition.
A new Lola team this year is Racing Box, who will campaign two LMP2 Coupe cars in the LMS and one entry at Le Mans in June.
The Italian team, owned by Ferdinando Geri have big ambitions in sportscar racing and this is reflected in their choice of drivers. The highly rated trio of Thomas Biagi, Andrea Piccini and Matteo Bobbi will head the charge for the Judd powered team.
The man who performed miracles in the 2000 SportsRacing World Cup event at Spa, Filippo Franchioni, drives racing Box’s second entry. Fellow Italians, Andrea Ceccato and Giacomo Piccini complete the team.
The German Kruse-Schiller team are back for another challenge in LMP2 this year. After some solid performances in 2008, the Mazda turbo powered open topped Lola LMP2 retains the experience of Hideki Noda, who is joined by Hong Based British driver Matthew Marsh and Italian, Francesco Sini.
Lola staff will be supporting their LMP customers this weekend. A dedicated spares truck will be at the circuit and chief designer Julian Sole will be overseeing Lola’s support at Barcelona.
Qualifying for the 1000kms race takes place at 14.30 bst on Saturday 4th with the race starting at 10.30 bst.