ASM Team Portugal signed off another winning season for Lola sportscars at Jarama near Madrid in Spain yesterday by winning their third LMP2 race in just four starts. The victory was also the Lola B05/40's fourth win from the five 1000kms events held during the 2006 season.
However the final round of the 2006 Le Mans Series brought heartache to the RML squad who were within 6 minutes of easily wrapping up the LMP2 title.
Lying in a comfortable 2nd place in the class, the AER powered MG-Lola was cruising to the title when a suspected engine problem stopped the red, white and blue car on the track in the dying moments of the 1000kms event.
ASM COMPLETE REMARKABLE HAT-TRICK
ASM (Antonio Simoes Motorsport) also finished an incredible 2nd overall and set the LMP2 class fastest lap with Angle Burgueno, Miguel Angel De Castro and Miguel Amaral celebrating what unofficially amounted to a 'home win.'
"Three wins from three races, and we were leading in Donington when the engine failed, we are doing a very good job," said a delighted De Castro after the race.
After starting the race from 4nd place on the LMP2 grid, De Castro immediately set about cutting through the field in the early running to head the class and run a comfortable 6th overall.
Miguel Amaral was next in the car and the elder of the three ASM drivers showed how quick he can be, on a circuit he has prior experience of, with some impressive lap times to keep the class lead as the race went past half distance.
Completing the victory was Angel Burgueno, who also set the fastest lap of the race in the fifth hour. The Spaniard, who endured the shattering misfortune of missing out on his first Le Mans 24 Hours drive in June, showed that he has been one of the finds of the season by completing the race with some stunning lap times to seal 2nd place overall and the teams third LMP2 triumph.
RML TAKE LITTLE CONSOLATION FROM TITLE RUNNER-UP POSITION
Up until six minutes from the end of the 6 hour race at Jarama, RML had the LMP2 title firmly tucked in to their pocket. Along with Team ASM, the ultra professional Wellingborough based team, have proved to be the pace setters in the LMP2 class all season. Jarama was no different with Tommy Erdos taking a clear pole position before the team sensibly opted for a conservative race plan.
With the twice Le Mans 24 Hours car running throughout the top three in the first couple of hours and the Barazi Courage lagging behind in its wake, the title seemed assured for Erdos, Newton and the RML squad.
Even being driven off the circuit by an errant GT2 car could not stop the AER powered MG-Lola. After this forced excursion, Mike Newton took on some new front bodywork, which was slightly damaged in the incident.
In to the final laps of the race, Erdos was now back at the wheel for his usual second stint and
reeling off the final laps in a secure 2nd place in class to gather the necessary title winning points. Almost unbelievably the car stopped on its 220th lap, just 6 minutes from the chequered flag. The RML MG-Lola had still completed 7 more laps than the delayed Barazi Courage but with the rules stating that a car has to take the chequered flag, the RML team could only rue some truly cruel misfortune.
CHAMBERLAIN SYNERGY FINISH JOINT RUNNERS UP IN LMP1
Oxfordshire based Chamberlain Synergy enjoyed another competitive showing at Jarama with their Lola B06/10-AER. A solid, un-troubled drive by Bob Berridge, Peter Owen and Gareth Evans saw the yellow Lola grab 4th in the LMP1 class.
It was the teams third top four placing during the year and the points amounted to a very creditable joint second place in the points standings with the Creation Autosportif team. Only an accident at Spa in May denied the team an automatic entry to the Le Mans 24 Hours next June.
As ever, Berridge had done a superb job in the early exchanges, carving through some of his LMP1 rivals with aplomb to hand over the Lola to team mate Gareth Evans in 4th place overall.
Evans, the reigning LMP2 champion driver completed another flawless stint before Peter Owen did likewise to ensure that the Lola B06/10 was in contention for the final push by Berridge.
The former multiple Thoroughbred Grand Prix champion was setting some storming times in the closing stages and peaked at 1m26.051s, exactly the same time set by the 3rd placed Creation of Nicolas Minnasian. The time was also faster than the 2nd placed LMP1 Swiss Spirit Courage of Marcel Fassler.
A TRYING WEEKEND FOR BINNIE AT JARAMA
With a chance of snatching the LMP2 title at Jarama in their sights, Binnie Motorsports arrived at Jarama in high spirits last week.
Sadly, that ebullience did not last long as a pit fire on Friday, caused by a fuel leak, meant that the team were unable to take part in any on-track action on Friday and Saturday, after a change of fuel cell. They were, however, able to start from the pitlane for the race itself.
During the race there was more frustration as Bill Binnie was forced to pit on lap 8 with a suspected electrical problem in the steering system. Rejoining the race sometime later, Binnie endured an off-track excursion before handing over to team mate Allen Timpany. He too spun the 'Saltaire' bedecked Lola and after damaging the rear of the car, the team were forced to retire on lap 75.
The resilient team however have confirmed that they will be undertaking a full year of the 2007 Le Mans Endurance Series when it is believed that Monza, Spa, Nürburgring, Valencia and Silverstone will make up the five 1000kms races.
Lola sportscars are next in action this weekend when the prestigious Petit Le Mans 10 hours race is held at the undulating Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia. Two of the Dyson Lola B06/10-AER's, Intersport and Horag Lista B05/40's and a pair of Lola B01/60-AER's run by Highcroft and Autocon will be in action.
FINAL LE MANS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
|PESCAROLO SPORT PESCAROLO C60 JUDD
|50 CHAMPIONS LM ENTRY
|CREATION AUTOSPORTIF CREATION CA06/H-002
|20 LM ENTRY
|CHAMBERLAIN-SYNERGY M'SPORT LOLA B0610-AER
|SWISS SPIRIT COURAGE LC70-JUDD
| ZYTEK ZYTEK 06S
| LISTER STORM RACING LISTER STORM HYBRID
|CREATION AUTOSPORTIF 1CREATION CA06/H-001
|COURAGE COMPETITION COURAGE LC70 MUGEN
|RACING FOR HOLLAND DOME MUGEN
|COURAGE COMPETITION COURAGE LC70 MUGEN
|PROTRAN COMPETITION PROTRAN RS06/H
|BARAZI-EPSILON COURAGE C65-AER
|28 CHAMPIONS LM ENTRY
|RML MG LOLA EX264
|26 LM ENTRY
|PIERRE BRUNEAU PILBEAM MP93-01PB-JUDD
|ASM TEAM RACING FOR PORTUGAL LOLA B05/40-AER
|BINNIE MOTORSPORTS LOLA 05/42
|KRUSE MOTORSPORT COURAGE C65 JUDD
|PAUL BELMONDO RACING COURAGE C65-FORD
|CHAMBERLAIN-SYNERGY M'SPORT LOLA B05/40-AER
|G-FORCE COURAGE C65-JUDD
|ROLLCENTRE RACING RADICAL SR9 JUDD
|PAUL BELMONDO RACING COURAGE C65
|TEAM BRUICHLADDICH RADICAL RADICAL SR9 AER
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