A second consecutive LMP2 class victory for the RML Lola-MG saw the conclusion of another successful
Le Mans 24 Hours for the Huntingdon customer racing car manufacturer this weekend.
A unique 1-2-4 result in the prototype class and all bar one of the five Lola sportscars finishing the world's
most grueling event completed a memorable week for all Lola's customer teams.
Lola sportscars have now won the last three classic sportscar endurance LMP2 classes: at Le Mans 2005,
Petit Le Mans 2005, Sebring 2006 and now Le Mans once again. It is also the first time an LMP2 car has
ever finished inside the top ten. It was also the third LMP2 victory for Lola at Le Mans in the last four years.
RML DOMINATE LMP2
RML thoroughly dominated the LMP2 class at Le Mans this year with Tommy Erdos/Mike Newton and
Andy Wallace leading all bar a handful of laps in the red, white and blue Lola-MG. The trio also brought
the car home an impressive 8th overall.
After an initial battle in the first hour with the Chamberlain Synergy/ASM Lola B05/40, Tommy Erdos
gradually built up an impressive lead before handing the driving duties over to his team mates, Andy Wallace
and Mike Newton. Throughout the evening and in to the night-time running, the car ran faultlessly, stretching its lead to seven laps
after 13 hours running and running a very impressive 6th overall at one stage.
"The car was a pleasure to drive," enthused Andy Wallace after completing one of his stints. " It is the best
handling prototype I have driven here for a while. I can actually track the leading LMP1 cars through the fast
corners and follow them really closely. It feels so stable." By mid-day on Sunday the car was 10 laps ahead of its nearest rival, the Miracle Courage C65 and 8th overall
with all three drivers sharing some impressive and contained driving. The team responded well to a broken lead on the battery auxiliary during hour 20, before Mike Newton realised
a long held dream to take the chequered flag to clinch the LMP2 victory.
"It feels fantastic and I am so proud of the team," said a delighted Newton after the race. " It was more or less
faultless and just shows what you can do with great preparation and planning. To win the class again is even better
because we had such a great run. We are a very proud team today."
Wednesday Qualifying: 4m 34.940s (Tommy Erdos)
Thursday Qualifying: 3m 41.555s (Tommy Erdos - 12th overall; 1st in LMP2)
Race: 3m 44.495s (Tommy Erdos)
BINNIE TAKE SUPERB RUNNERS UP PLACE
Binnie Motorsports took a brilliant second place in LMP2 at Le Mans to mirror their runners up placing at Sebring
back in March. The Anglo/American squad finished 13th overall in their Zytek powered Lola B05/40 with team owner Bill Binnie/Allen
Timpeny and Yojiro Terada taking the plaudits.
"It was tough but we made it," said a jubilant Bill Binnie. "We had some issues but we dealt with them. To come through with a result like that is just awesome and a tribute to the guys in the team, Lola, Zytek and all our partners." Binnie himself had started the race and endured a spin at Indianapolis in the second hour before handing over to Timpeny. Later on, a puncture and some significant suspension damage failed to halt the tenacious team who re-grouped and got
the car back in the fight for second in class. Hunting down the then second placed Miracle Motorsport entered Courage, they were soon ahead, and it was a position
they comfortably held to the flag. After winning the LMP2 class in 2003, also in a Lola, Binnie was thrilled to have done it with his own team this time.
Yojiro Terada, competing in his 27th Le Mans scored his best result at the 24 Hours for several years.
Wednesday Qualifying: 4m 51.822s (Bill Binnie)
Thursday Qualifying: 3m 56.123s (Bill Binnie)
Race: 3m 55.883s (Bill Binnie)
INTERSPORT LOLA: DRAMA ALL THE WAY
Intersport Racing had an action packed Le Mans but came through the other side smiling by taking an inspired 4th place in LMP2. The longtime Lola runners qualified an excellent 2nd in class for the race with Clint Field showcasing his talents, alongside Liz Halliday and Duncan Dayton. However, the race didn't start well for the trio, as Halliday brought the AER engined Lola in to the pits after just a handful of laps. A misfire was fixed swiftly and from the back of the field, the car rose up through the ranks to sit an excellent 16th overall and 3rd in class at midnight. Shortly after that though, a gearbox problem was diagnosed and a further delay saw the car slip down the order.
Reverting to a manual shift the Lola continued making progress up the order with Field and Halliday double stinting in to the early morning. The tenacious Ohio based team hauled the Lola-AER back up the order to 18th position after 18 hours but once again fate intervened. A turbo wastegate had to be replaced and the team effectively had to settle for 4th place, despite almost executing what would have been a remarkable 1-2-3 Lola clean sweep of the LMP2 podium. With just minutes left, the team were waiting on the pitwall to welcome the black, red and white car home when the television cameras switched to the scene of Clint Field stationery on the Mulsanne Straight. Unbelievably the car had suffered a right rear puncture on the penultimate lap of the race. Thankfully, Field was able to restart the car and cross the line to take an eventful and well earned 4th in class and 19th overall.
"It was just a puncture - on the last lap. I couldn't believe it," said a relieved Clint Field. "I pulled over because I thought the smoke was gearbox oil - and I didn't want to lose it all, or cover the track in oil. So I took the engine cover off and checked everything - then drove it home. We finished!
Wednesday Qualifying: 4m 34.160s (Liz Halliday)
Thursday Qualifying: 3m 43.869s (Clint Field - 13th overall; 2nd in LMP2)
Race: 3m 44.274s (Clint Field)
CHAMBERLAIN SYNERGY ENDURE CRUEL LUCK
The Chamberlain Synergy team started Le Mans week well with a clearly defined qualifying strategy accomplished by taking 11th position on the starting grid. This was despite Bob Berridge being badly baulked on his fastest lap, losing him several seconds, which would have firmly ensconced him in the top 10. A steady start to the race saw Berridge and then subsequently Gareth Evans hover on the fringes of the top 10, before
Peter Owen started his first stint in hour three. Despite an altercation with one of the Pescarolo LMP1 cars at Mulsanne Corner, Owen handed the car back over to Berridge in 17th place. At approximately 22.00 the AER powered Lola headed to the pits where an oil leak was found. Some swift work by the
engineers saw the car back on to the track after an oil pump change, but now the team was back in 41st place overall. However, the spirited teams never say die attitude kicked in and Berridge put in some scorching laps to get back up to
35th place as dawn broke.
Continuing its superb fighting comeback, the yellow Lola B06/10 was into the top 20 by lunchtime with Berridge setting fastest lap after fastest lap. But at 13.00 gear selection problems saw the car in the pits once again and effectively out of the running. One more fightback was on for Hugh Chamberlain and his team, as just before the end of the race the car was fired up
again after some repairs and attempted to complete the necessary laps to be classified in the official results. Sadly it fell just short and despite having crossed the line, the laps completed were not sufficient. It had been a bold and tenacious effort by the reigning LMS champion Chamberlain Synergy team, who have already
vowed to come back stronger next year.
Wednesday Qualifying: 5m 04.081s (Bob Berridge)
Thursday Qualifying: 3m 40.467s (Bob Berridge)
Race: 3m 43.028s (Bob Berridge)
After an incident filled test day, the Chamberlain Synergy entered Lola B05/40 that was run by the Portuguese ASM team, headed to Le Mans with Warren Hughes having replaced Spanish racer Angel Burgueno. The teams qualifying session on Wednesday saw more drama when Miguel Amaral lost control of the yellow LMP2 car
and crashed heavily. Despite this set back the team worked hard to get the car back out for the later session.
Lining up 3rd in class on starting grid, Warren Hughes had a blistering start to lead at the end of the first lap after overtaking both Tommy Erdos (RML Lola) and Joao Barbosa (Rollcentre Radical). After an early safety car for a crashed Aston Martin, Hughes pitted for the first scheduled pit stop and at the end of the first hour was a superb 8th overall before handing over to Amaral. Some solid work by the Portuguese driver in the early evening kept the AER powered LMP2 in the top three but at
approximately 21.30 the car was forced to pit for a spark plug change. At midnight Hughes was back in the car and making more headway, stabilising 2nd in LMP2 and residing in 9th place overall."It feels fine and despite the time lost when we changed plugs, we look good for a decent run," concluded the former
works Lola-MG driver.
However the car was retired shortly after with gearbox problems.
Wednesday Qualifying: 4m 37.362s (Miguel Angel De Castro)
Thursday Qualifying: 3m 45.732s (Warren Hughes)
Race: 3m 44.671s (Warren Hughes)
Lola sportscar customers now concentrate on the remaining races in the Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series. Lola engineers back at the state-of-the-art facility in Huntingdon continue to work on developments for the next generation of the long and successful Lola sportscar family. Aerodynamic studies have been on-going at Lolas renowned windtunnel in anticipation of the ACO's announcement over the
weekend that closed top prototypes will be returning to Le Mans in the coming years.