Lola's much anticipated LMP1 car - the B06/10 made its track debut today at Sebring in Florida in preparation for the famous 12 Hour race at the historic airfield track in March.
James Weaver was the first driver to sample the AER 3.6 litre V8 twin turbo machine and it immediately made an impression on him, despite minimal laps after the team had finished preparing the car for what is essentially a shakedown test.
"Gorgeous - a beautiful piece of engineering, " enthused Weaver. "Lola has done us proud and so has AER. It is a quality piece of equipment - very impressive."
The B06/10 is the latest in a long lineage of successful sportscar designs by Lola's renowned team of designers at its Huntingdon base. After taking an un-official triple crown of LMES, Le Mans 24 Hours and ALMS class title wins last season with the B05/40 LMP2 design, Lola are looking to more wins in this years European and American endurance races.
The all-new B06/10 will race against stiff competition this year with Porsche and Audi fielding new designs in the LMP2 and LMP1 classes respectively. Dyson will run two of the new cars, with the second scheduled to test for the first time early next month.
The B06/10 has been built specifically for the ACO/LMP1 rules and benefits from the development of the B05/40 LMP2 model that proved to be the pacesetter in the class, on both sides of the Atlantic last season. Features on the LMP1 car include a quick release nosebox, dual high-pressure fuel pumps and back up batteries and starter motors.
Lola's HT (high-torque) gearbox has already been race-proven for performance, and reliability in previous designs. With a maximum input torque in excess of 800 Nm the gearbox has the durability needed to cope with the demands of 24 hour racing. Dyson Racing will use a semi-automatic 6-speed sequential system developed by AER.
Rupert Manwaring, Managing Director of Lola Group said of the new design: " This is the latest in a series of Lola sportscars designed and built by our team here Huntingdon. We believe that with Dyson Racing that this chassis will be as successful as those that have gone before it, in particular the B01/60 and the B05/40. Last years victories with the LMP2 car were a ringing endorsement of both Lola's and our customers capabilities."
As well as the B06/10, there were more Lola designs on show at Sebring today with Intersport undertaking laps with their B05/40. Jon Field undertook the driving duties today setting an excellent best time of 1m50.840s.
Dyson's former cars, the B01/60's are now in the hands of Autocon and Highcroft Racing. While Autocon aim to undertake their first miles in the coming weeks, Highcroft were in Florida with Duncan Dayton and Andy Wallace getting his new teams 2006 campaign off to a good start with a fastest lap of 1m50.747s, whilst helping the team get to grips with his ex car.
The 54th Sebring 12 Hours will take place on Saturday 18th March 2006
The B06/10 will also be represented in the Le Mans Series with Chamberlain Synergy upgrading from LMP2 to the new design. Once again Bob Berridge, Peter Owen and 2005 LMES champion Gareth Evans will drive.
Top times from the first day of the test
1. Sascha Maassen Penske Porsche LMP2 1m49.930s
2. Andy Wallace Highcroft Lola B01/60 LMP1 1m50.747s
3. Jon Field Intersport Lola B05/40 1m50.840s
4. James Weaver Dyson Lola B06/10 1m51.545s
5. Emmanuele Pirro Audi R10 1m54.250s
6. Frank Biela Audi R10 1m54.457ss
7. Guy Cosmo BK Courage 1m57.304s
Q&A with James Weaver
How many new cars have you developed?
"At Dyson alone, quite a few: two Riley's, a Reynard, did a bit of testing for Lola years ago, the MG, this new car, the Porsche 962, the Spice Ferrari, the Indy Lights car, the Indy Car - a good ten."
Is it fun, challenging...?
"It is brilliant - like having a new girl friend and probably marginally less aggravation..... Not that I have a new girl friend of course!"
How is the car?
Gorgeous - a beautiful piece of engineering. Lola has done us proud and so has AER. It is a quality piece of equipment - very impressive."
What can you tell about the car at this point?
"At this moment, it feels very benign and user friendly and a lot less busy to drive than the MG. The engine is very smooth and accelerates very well off the corners."
Is this your first drive by wire car?
"Yes. The biggest problem is it is so bumpy around here - we just have to calm the throttle down. We will work on the springs and damping on the throttle and than it will be fine."
Is there a definite procedure for developing a new car?
"Basically you are doing an engineering audit like a financial audit for a company: you see what you got, what you have in stock and whether everything is as it should be. You do that in engineering terms. For example, acquiring the data for the aero map: you do aero runs at a steady 150 mph and make sure all your push rod loads at those ride heights match up to your aero map. That is one of the most important things to do and than you start working from there."
Is it a three day process...?
"You never stop learning. If you don't have any major problems, than a two or three day test should get you 80% of the way there."
At the end of this test, what do you want to know?
"You want to know if we have any long lead item problems, like a major fault with the aero, or the engine or chassis or transmission. If we come away with nothing major like that, than we will be looking good."
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