Lola sportscars were once again in the thick of the action at the second round of this years American Le Mans Series held at St Petersberg in Florida on Saturday evening.

Just two weeks after the Sebring 12 Hours where the Fernandez run Lola-Acura scored a sensational third place overall and second in the LMP2 class, the Mexican B07/40 was again in the hunt for a possible class win until a cruel late race penalty meant the team had to settle for a fourth placed finish in class.

Luis Diaz had started the race from the second row of the grid after a startlingly competitive qualifying session saw the first seven cars covered by just over a second.

The Acura powered Lola was running in a fine fourth overall in the early stages but improved to snatch the class lead from Marino Franchitti’s fellow Acura powered car just before the hour mark.

On the verge of completing a superb two hour stint, Luis Diaz was adjudged to have caused “avoidable contact” whilst lapping the Porsche LMP2 of Chris Dyson and was informed by his team to undertake a stop/go penalty in the pitlane. Unfortunately for the team the rules stipulate this cannot be taken as well as a conventional pit stop, so the two trips down pitlane meant that when Adrian Fernandez took over, he found himself a lap down on the LMP2 lead battle.

“He [Chris Dyson] had been holding me up a lot. He opened the door going into Turn One and then closed it,” said a frustrated Diaz after the race. “It’s unfortunate because I didn’t want to hit him. I was doing my race and I was leading. He was four laps behind and was still able to continue. I think the team showed a lot of potential today. They did a great job. I feel bad because we deserve more but we still have 10 races to go. We are okay in points and we should be there fighting for the win again in the next races.”

The BK Motorsport Lola B07/40 showed more promise at St Petes, with Ben Devlin having a spirited early run in the Kumho shod LMP2 car. The Norwich born driver was battling with the Dyson Porsches for a top six LMP2 place when a move down the inside of Guy Smith saw him spin the car. Despite getting the Lola running again Ben was forced to stop later in the lap with what was believed to be an electrical problem.

“It is a real shame because the car felt better with each lap this weekend,” said Devlin. “We know that the first three races mean getting at one with the package but despite no testing at all, we are very positive that we can have races like this where we are battling with other LMP2 cars for position.”

Autocon Motorsports ended their race with an accident after Chris McMurray was trying to catch up the field before a re-start after a yellow flag period. On cold tyres, the car got away from him and the resulting damage caused the retirement for the B01/60-AER.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series takes place at the famous Long Beach street course this weekend.

Race Results
Pos Cl Drivers Make Laps
1. P1 R.Capello, A.McNish Audi R10 TDI 114
2. P1 E.Pirro, M.Werner Audi R10 TDI 114
3. P2 S.Maassen, R.Briscoe Porsche RS Spyder 114
4. P2 R.Dumas, T.Bernhard Porsche RS Spyder 114
5. P2 D.Brabham, S.Johansson, D.Dayton Acura ARX-01a 114
6. P2 A.Fernandez, L.Diaz Acura Lola BO6/43 113
7. P1 J.Field, D.Dayton, R.Berry Creation CA06H Judd 112
8. GT1 O.Gavin, O.Beretta Corvette C6-R 111
9. GT2 M.Salo, J.Melo Ferrari 430GT 109
10. GT2 J.Van Overbeek, J.Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3 108
11. P2 B.Leitzinger, A.Wallace Porsche RS Spyder 108
12. GT2 B.Auberlen, J.Hand Panoz Esperante 107
13. GT2 L.Pechnik, D.Law Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 107
14. GT2 W.Henzler, R.Liddell Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 106
15. GT2 J.Tafel, D.Farnbacher Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 106
16. GT2 T.Pappas, T.Borcheller, M.Basseng Porsche 911 GT3 104
17. GT2 R.Kelleners, T.Milner Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 100
18. P2 C.Dyson, G.Smith Porsche RS Spyder 98
19. GT2 S.Maxell, R.Smith, B.Sellers Panoz Esperante 97
20. GT2 T.Bergmeister, T.Enge Ferrari 430GT 87
21. P2 B.Herta, M.Franchitti Acura ARX-01a 84
22. P1 M.Lewis, C.McMurry, B.Willman Lola EX257 AER 38
23. GT1 J.O'Connell, J.Magnussen Corvette C6-R 37
24. P2 J.Bach, B.Devlin, R.Matos Mazda Lola B07/40 26

For more information, please visit www.americanlemans.com

Bitter disappointment for the Fernandez team following a penalty when leading their class.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
The Lola-Mazda B07/40 takes the outside line. It was running well until sidelined with an electrical problem.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
The start of the race, the Autocon B01/60 can be seen on the right.
Picture americanlemans.com)
The Fernandez Lola leads one of the works Audis.
(Picture americanlemans.com)