Five Lola sportscars were in action during the official test day for the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend.
A quartet of Lola B05/40 chassis and one of the all-new B06/10 LMP1 cars were fine- tuning for the greatest endurance sportscar race on Earth, which takes place over the weekend of 17/18 June.
There were mixed fortunes for the teams testing over the weekend as the drama came thick and fast on the iconic 8.476 mile La Sarthe track, which this year features a re-profiled pit exit and first corner just before the famous Dunlop bridge.
RML SET PACE IN LMP2
Reigning LMP2 winners RML Group topped the times in their category with Tommy Erdos setting a best lap of 3m41.873s, a lap which proved to be some three seconds faster than was set on the same day 12 months previously and also faster than the LMP2 pole set for the race itself.
Andy Wallace has joined the familiar partnership of Erdos and Newton for this years race, although the ultra experienced Wallace was not present at Le Mans, as he had Grand -Am commitments at Watkins Glen. His first taste of the AER engined MG-Lola will be on the first day of qualifying, on Wednesday week.
Tommy Erdos was very satisfied with the way the day went for the team and said: “We were just doing our own thing, working on set-ups. The car was running really well. Mike (Newton) did a lot of laps and is feeling very good about the car.”
B06/10 MAKES LA SARTHE DEBUT
Chamberlain Synergy’s LMP1 chassis set the ninth fastest time overall, with Bob Berridge setting the time. The team has re-built the B06/10 after Peter Owen’s accident at Spa three weeks ago. Despite a spin each for Berridge and Owen, the team were upbeat about their preparation for the race and reigning LMES LMP2 champion Gareth Evans said: “The car feels very good indeed. Very responsive to the few changes we made to it, especially with traction out of the slow speed corners. I just wanted a few easy laps and that is what we accomplished. But there wasn't a lap out there when I didn't see a car with a puncture, coming back slowly. A Belmondo had one right in front of me. Creation had one too.”
The team were also using the new C spec version of the AER twin turbo engine which has undergone work on the camshafts and cam timing, in order for optimisation for the 101.6 spec fuel.
IBERIAN LMP2 DRAMA
The teams LMP2 entry, shared with the Portuguese ASM team started the day well with both Miguel Angel De Castro and Miguel Amaral completing trouble free stints.
However, at approximately 11.15, Angel Burgueno crashed at Tertre Rouge and brought out the red flag. The Spaniard was one of the stars of the recent Spa 1000kms when he and his team mates finished 4th overall and won the LMP2 class.
Sadly the car was not able to be repaired at the track but will be ready for race week. Burgueno, unfortunately, will be unable to take part, as he did not complete the required number of laps on his first visit to the track.
INTERSPORT FULL OF CONFIDENCE
Intersport Racing made the long trip across the Atlantic for their fourth consecutive assault on the great race. Clint Field, Liz Halliday and Duncan Dayton are all familiar Lola sportscar drivers and will be looking to continue an excellent start to the season. that has so far seen them take class wins at Sebring and Houston and lead the ALMS LMP2 points table.
"The car is really good. The 3:49 lap was on hard tyres, and I've only done seven laps,” said a happy Clint Field. “ It feels very comfortable. I haven't raced here for two years, and my best lap then was a 3:59 in the old (LMP1/675 B01/60) car. I'd forgotten how nice a track it is. I think we can do a 3:45 on softer tyres.”
BINNIE MAKE SOLID START
Binnie Motorsports undertake there first Le Mans 24 Hours with the Zytek engined B05/40 this month. Bill Binnie has opted for experience in his driving team with Allen Timpany being joined by Yojiro Terada who will be starting his 27th Le Mans 24 Hours this year.
The car set a best lap of 3m55.197s with Binnie at the wheel. The American/Scot is hoping that they can re-create the 2003 event when he partnered Rick Sutherland and Clint Field to take the first ever LMP2 class win in the Lola B2K/40.
All five Huntingdon built cars now look forward to ‘Le Mans week’, which begins with scrutineering in the famous Place De Jacobins in downtown Le Mans. Qualifying begins on Wednesday evening with sessions at 19.00-21.00 and 22.00-00.00 local time. The race itself begins at 17.00 local time on Saturday 17th June.
Live coverage of the qualifying sessions and the race itself will be on Motors TV. Radio Le Mans can be accessed at www.radiolemans.com or on Globecast Sky Digital, Channel 0157.
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