Lola sportscars undertook final preparations for this weekends Sebring 12 Hours yesterday with official qualifying taking place on the historic Florida circuit.

Four Huntingdon built LMP1 and LMP2 sports prototypes line up on the grid for the 55th running of the classic endurance season opener. This year, Lola are the chassis providers for both the Acura and Mazda assault on the American Le Mans Series and both entries showed that they will be in the hunt for major honours this season.

Fernandez Racing will line up 8th on the grid after team owner and driver Adrian Fernandez lapped in 1m48.417s with his Lola-Acura LMP2. The Mexican had gone significantly faster in the practice sessions held earlier in the week, but as he explained, there is significantly more pace to come from their package in the race itself.

“Time-wise, we are not very happy. When we tested here, we were very fast and now we can’t get close to those times. We started out the week with some diff [differential] issues and brake issues which we fixed and now the car is good through the corners, but we are losing speed on the straight,” said Adrian Fernandez

“We don’t know what we are missing on the setup but we can’t repeat the times that we did here before. We have really been chasing the car since Day One. It is a little frustrating in that respect,” continued Fernandez. “I know speed is not that important in a 12-hour race but it would make a nice comfort zone to know you have a car capable to be able to fight for the win if you are in that position. Right now, we haven’t found it. We are not giving up. This is part of the learning process. We have a very reliable car and we have a great team. If we do what we did in the Acura 12-hour [simulation] race and with a little bit of luck, I think we can win this thing. The car feels good. We just need to find what we are missing on the setup and make sure it gets to the end of the race.”

Lining up just two places behind Fernandez and his team mates Luis Diaz and David Martinez will be the BK Motorsport Lola-Mazda. Ben Devlin set the cars fastest time of the week so after just a handful laps since the team first shook the car down in the UK last week. The up and coming British sportscar racer was delighted with the way the Mazda powered Lola was handling on its Kumho tyres, saying.

“We’re very pleased with progress so far, it’s where we expected to be. The car arrived in the States only last Thursday and the boys have done an enormous amount of work in that time. We’re going for a finish and getting there as quickly and reliably as we can.”

Horag Racing returned to the tracks with some consistent lapping in their red and white Lola B05/40 Judd. Didier Theys and his team mates Fredy Leinhard and Eric Van De Poele start 12th overall and 9th in the ultra competitive LMP2 class. Their primary goal is now to finish the 12 hour marathon.

“We are pretty happy. The car doesn’t have the full '07 aero package yet, just the front end. It still makes a difference though with better speed down the straightaway, better cooling for the brakes and more downforce." said Theys.

Autocon Motorports line up 4th in LMP1 with their Lola B01/60-AER. The California based team are on the 5th row overall and Chris McMurray who set a best time of 1m53.125s and his team mates Bryan Willman and Michael Lewis are aiming for a podium position on Saturday evening.

The Sebring 12 Hours begins at 15.30 gmt on Saturday afternoon. Motors TV will be showing the race live while Globecast Radio will have live commentary and timing at www.imsaracing.net

Qualifying times
Pos Cl Driver Make Time
1. P1 Marco Werner Audi R10 TDI 1:44.974
2. P1 Rinaldo Capello Audi R10 TDI 1:45.326
3. P2 Timo Bernhard Porsche RS Spyder 1:46.046
4. P2 David Brabham Acura ARX-01a 1:47.109
5. P2 Andy Wallace Porsche RS Spyder 1:47.130
6. P2 Bryan Herta Acura ARX-01a 1:47.423
7. P2 Chris Dyson Porsche RS Spyder 1:48.175
8. P2 Adrian Fernandez Acura Lola BO6 1:48.417
9. P2 Sascha Maassen Porsche RS Spyder 1:50.185
10. P2 Ben Devlin Mazda Lola B07-40 1:50.713
11. P1 Chris McMurry Lola EX257 AER 1:53.125
12. P2 Didier Theys Judd Lola B05-40 1:53.594
13. GT1 Jan Magnussen Corvette C6-R 1:57.061
14. GT1 Oliver Gavin Corvette C6-R 1:57.480
15. GT1 Antonio Garcia Aston Martin DBR9 1:58.241
16. GT2 Jaime Melo Ferrari 430GT 2:02.439
17. GT2 Tomas Enge Ferrari 430GT 2:02.701
18. GT2 Joerg Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:03.043
19. GT2 Wolf Henzler Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:03.338
20. GT2 Dominik Farnbacher Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:03.652
21. GT2 Colin Braun Ferrari 430GT 2:03.811
22. GT2 Bill Auberlen Panoz Esperante 2:03.997
23. GT2 Ralf Kelleners Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:04.001
24. GT2 Dirk Werner Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:04.654
25. GT2 Scott Maxwell Panoz Esperante 2:04.686
26. GT2 Peter Kox Spyker C8 2:04.758
27. GT2 Darren Law Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:04.897
28. GT2 Terry Borcheller Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 2:06.811
29. GT2 Rob Wilson Ferrari F430GT 2:07.062
30. GT2 Arie Luyendyk Jr Panoz Esperante GTLM 2:11.529
31. GT2 Philip Collin Porsche 996 RSR 2:13.056
32. GT2 Mauro Casadei Porsche 996 RSR 2:15.693
33. P1 Jon Field Creation CA06H Judd no time - accident

For more information, please visit www.americanlemans.com
The new Fernandez Lola-Acura qualified a solid eighth.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
Twelfth fastest time was the reward for the Horag Lola.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
The Fernandez team are ready whether it's rain or shine.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
The Lola-Acura powers its way through the Sebring curves.
(Picture americanlemans.com)