10/03/07 - 2007 SEBRING PREVIEW

The build up to this years running of the classic Sebring 12 Hours season has been an intense one, making it the most highly anticipated season opener in recent years.

Several new teams, chassis/engine partnerships and talented drivers are set to go head to head for the 55th running of the great race.

When speed, endurance and engineering skill are the orders of the day you can bet Lola will be in the mix, challenging for honours and 2007 sees four Huntingdon built cars battling in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.

Since the first running of Sebring's 12-hour sports car classic, 2,982 drivers have raced more than 2.2 million miles during 648 hours of racing. Only 102 drivers, however, have managed to win the world's toughest endurance race.

The 55th running of America's premier sports car race takes place on Saturday, March 17th, at the historic Sebring International Raceway. Each year offers epic achievements and dramatic finishes, witnessed by one of the largest crowds in racing.

A list of former Sebring winners is like a "Who's Who" of motorsports. Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti, Jim Hall, Jacky Ickx, Al Holbert, Bobby Rahal, Brian Redman and A.J. Foyt ... just to name a few.

Fernandez Fever

Fernandez Racing and their Lola-Acura showed in January testing at Sebring that they could be celebrating a debut win come midnight on Saturday 18th March. The all Mexican driving squad of team owner Adrian Fernandez, ex Indy Lights race winner Luis Diaz and David Martinez will be a serious force and already have an ‘unofficial’ race win this season after taking the ‘chequered flag’ at Sebring last month during a meticulously organised ‘test-race,’ defeating their fellow Acura powered rivals at Highcroft Racing and Andretti-Greeen Racing.

The team are managed by the highly respected Tom Anderson and along with Acura boss Robert Clarke, the pair are delighted with the Lola’s pace and the immediate threat to major rivals Penske Porsche. Above all though, Andersen was thrilled with the package received from Lola.

“Lola delivered what we consider to be the finest production race car ever delivered to us from Europe.
It has performed remarkably, we are very impressed with the craftsmanship, the fit of the bodywork, the mechanical systems and suspension have all performed correctly.

“This is a very exciting time for Fernandez Racing,” continued Andersen. “Both Adrian and Luis are excited as well to be driving the Lola.”

Lola Zoom Zoom

Another major manufacturer that has invested in the strengths of the Lola B07/40 is Mazda who along with BK Motorsports returns this season with a renewed attack on the LMP2 category.

Mated to an all-new MZR-R four cylinder turbo engine, the Lola-Mazda comes to Sebring fresh from a shakedown test in the UK last week where Lola engineers worked with Mazda in last minute preparations for Sebring week. Mazda’s Motorsports Manager, John Doonan encapsulates the enthusiasm and dedication of the programme when he says:

“We’ve chosen a group of partners that we have confidence in - AER, Lola, Kumho - and I’m pleased. We have a great partnership with Lola and a fast developing partnership with AER. Perhaps there will be more cars to come?”

Swiss timing

Also racing in LMP2 is the vastly experienced Horag-Lista team who in recent years have sporadically in both the ALMS and over in the Le Mans Endurance Series. Overseen by Markus Hotz and featuring the knowledgeable skills of Didier Theys, Fredy Leinhard and Eric Van De Poele the Swiss based team will be threats to the bigger manufacturer teams during the race.

"I can't wait for the new season to begin. This is my 30th season in racing. I've been training very hard, and I feel personally and as a team that we are up to the challenge. We know each other, we work well together, and we trust each other. Team chemistry is not something that you can buy.”

Staying power

In LMP1, Autocon Motorsports are back with the ex Dyson Racing Lola B01/60-AER. The based team have a real chance of a podium this weekend in the undersubscribed category in their newly liveried Jean Richard sponsored car. Team regulars Chris McMurray, Michael Lewis and Bryan Willman will be looking to continue some of the improvements that were made throughout a good initial season in 2006.

From Long Beach onwards the ex Dyson Racing Lola B06/10 will race in the hands of Cytosport with team owner Greg Pickett and German Klaus Graf driving.

2007 promises to see some mouth watering action with Lola sportscars right in the thick of it. The absolute power of these sports prototypes is sure to wow the impressive ALMS crowds once again in 2007.

For more information, please visit www.americanlemans.com

To download a copy of Lola's Sebring Media Guide click HERE.

The Fernandez Racing and their Lola-Acura have been showing a lot of potential.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
Adrian Fernandez oversees some fine tuning on the B07/10 during testing.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz discuss the development of the Lola on the track.
(Picture americanlemans.com)