| Lola again celebrated some superb Le Mans Series results at the second round held at Valencia over the weekend.
Charouz Racing System and Swiss Spirit finished second and third overall respectively after a dramatic race which saw the Lola LMP1 sportscar beaten only by the Peugeot diesel of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin.
In LMP2, Quifel ASM took another win to kick start their 2007 campaign. The Iberian trio of Miguel Amaral, Angel Burgueno and Miguel Angel De Castro endured several spins on their way to the top step of the podium, but the Lola B05/40’s speed and consistency ensured that the well run team celebrated their fourth LMP2 win since joining the series at the beginning of 2006.
GOOD NEWS AT CHAROUZ!
After a stunning debut at Monza three weeks ago, Charouz Racing System arrived in Valencia with their confidence high for what was still only the teams second ever sportscar race.
The Judd powered Lola B07/17 didn’t skip a beat in Spain and the excellent driving squad of Jan Charouz, Stefan Mucke and Alex Yoong secured second place in the final hour of the 1000kms. It was a tough race though for the Antonin Charouz owned team, as Mucke had to forcibly defend the runner-up position from the Pescarolo Judd of Joao Barbosa.
It proved a hectic weekend for several Lola drivers who were dovetailing the Valencia 1000kms with the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone. Mucke was one of those spending just as much time on a plane as he was on the track over the 3 days.
“I’m very happy, my flight from England to Spain was worth it,” said the breathless German. “ I had to get used to driving our Lola the first twenty minutes as it is quite a difference compared to the Lamborghini Murcielago (he raced at Silverstone). It was important that we proved the Lola/Judd is really fast and reliable. I feel great for our chances at the 24 hours Le Mans in June. There’s not much to say about the thing with Barbosa, it was a common racing collision, none of us got hurt in any way.”
After racing a Lola A1 GP car last weekend at Brands Hatch, Alex Yoong switched to the Lola LMP1 this weekend and did a sterling job in the red, white and blue machine after just a handful of practice laps. Starting the race, the Malaysian drove a perfect stint and handed over to Jan Charouz who again belied his 19 years to consolidate the teams position among the front runners.
“It’s a huge success, a fantasy,” said Jan’s father Antonin Charouz. “In the second race of the championship the Czech team finishes second, that’s pure joy to me. Stefan’s manoeuvre with Barbosa might have been on the edge, but that really is a part of this game.”
SWISS SUCCESS FOR LOLA-AUDI
All eyes were on the much talked about Swiss Spirit Lola-Audi in Valencia and the new combination did not disappoint, as they scored a sensational third place on their track debut.
The Fred Stalder run operation had only tested the car for the first time two weeks ago, yet the combination of Lola chassis and Audi engine proved capable of hitting the ground running and securing a podium position.
Just like Stefan Mucke, Jean Denis Deletraz, the man who put together this ambitious project, was also commuting between Valencia and Silverstone, but the experienced Swiss racer was delighted as he climbed the podium in Spain, saying: “The team has worked day and night to achieve this. The car was in perfect condition, really nice to drive. Stefan (Mucke) and I travelled here together from Silverstone and he got straight into the car. I preferred to wait, but I drove a full stint at the end.”
Marcel Fassler and Iradj Alexander also showed that as well as the right technical tools, the team also have a great driver line-up, with the highly rated Fassler starting the race brilliantly and the new to LMP racing, Alexander, committing himself admirably with an assured performance. The Lola also showed its strength after surviving two hits from other cars and a puncture in the opening exchanges.
“The car was really competitive at the end of the stints and we’re on the podium already,” said a delighted Fassler.
With a long history of working successfully with major manufacturers such as GM, Nissan and MG, Lola Cars International is again proving that when it comes to sportscar design and construction, they are the leaders when it comes to getting results on the track.
CHAMBERLAIN SYNERGY SAVOUR RACE FINISH
Lola’s first ever LMP1 customer, Chamberlain Synergy, scored a pleasing 6th place finish in Spain.
The Oxford based team, who took the 2005 LMP2 title for Gareth Evans, struggled in the early stages of the race with the fearless Bob Berridge trying in vain to catch the leading LMP1 group on his soft Dunlop shod Lola B06/10.
Peter Owen and Gareth Evans enjoyed their stints at the wheel of the AER turbo powered yellow Lola to secure 19th position overall but more importantly their first points on the board for 6th in class.
The Hugh Chamberlain headed team now prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours where they have competed in the last two years in both LMP2 and LMP1 Lola’s.
HOME DELIGHT FOR QUIFEL ASM
Fighting back from losing the LMP2 lead at Monza last month, the Quifel ASM team took an authoritative class win at what was their home event.
Based in Portugal but with several Spanish staff, including drivers Miguel De Castro and Angel Burgueno, the team were effectively racing at home in Valencia. Taking a competitive third place on the LMP2 grid, the AER turbo powered Lola B05/40 was started in the race by De Castro, and the former British F3 racer did his usual solid job, taking the class lead after the first round of pit stops and even surviving a gravelly moment after contact with the Vergers driven Barazi Zytek.
From the mid point of the race Miguel Amaral took over, and again, despite a spin which brought out the only safety car of the race, the ever improving Portuguese driver handed the car over to Burgueno who calmly took the car to the chequered flag two laps ahead of the Saulnier Courage.
“It was a tough race and there were plenty of incidents but we kept our car running at a pace and due to the lack of luck of our competitions we won,” said a delighted Amaral.
Amaral also confirmed at Valencia that Warren Hughes will once again join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.
TOUGH LUCK FOR OTHER LOLA RUNNERS
Binnie Motorsports, RML and Horag Racing suffered misfortune at Valencia after showing considerable promise in qualifying and in the early stages of the race.
RML had set a scorching LMP2 pace during testing and qualifying, lining up 2nd on the LMP2 grid, just three tenths of a second from the pole sitting Zytek.
After Michael Vergers went off during the opening lap in the Zytek, Tommy Erdos took over at the front was comfortably leading in LMP2 and in 7th place overall before the pit stop shake ups began.
Sadly for the team, the first of several problems began at this stop with a new battery needed. The Wellingborough based team then took the opportunity to change drivers with Mike Newton stepping aboard. More problems befell the double Le Mans LMP2 champions, including an alternator issue and some damage to the undertray of the car. However they still managed to score 3 points for 6th position in LMP2.
Binnie Motorsports were hoping to consolidate their strong start to the year after finishing 3rd at Monza in the first round of the series last month. However, despite showing encouraging pace in qualifying with Chris Buncombe, Bill Binnie and Allen Timpany, the team were forced to pack up early when a clutch problem forced them to stop in the pits.
Monza LMP2 victors, Horag Racing also succumbed to engine woes in Valencia. But Fredy Leinhard, Didier Theys and Eric Van De Poele still sit in joint third place in the points standings with four rounds still to go.
NOW FOR LE MANS………
There will be no time for the teams to take stock of the Valencia race as they now begin intensive preparations for the 75th running of the worlds greatest race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16/17.
With six Lola’s entered for the race, three in each of the LMP classes, great things are expected of the Huntingdon built cars this year. RML will be aiming for an historic hat-trick of LMP2 wins, but they will face stiff competition from not only other constructors but also from the Lola’s of Binnie and Quifel ASM.
In LMP1, the Charouz and Swiss Spirit teams will be looking to infiltrate the works diesel entries from Audi and Peugeot, while Chamberlain Synergy will be bringing their combative spirit to La Sarthe in search of a top finish.
Lola will also be issuing the latest details on their all-new B08/60 LMP1 Coupe, which will be the first ever customer available closed top LMP car. Scheduled to test this autumn the car is currently being exhaustively tested in Lola’s on-site windtunnel. Lola are currently talking to several manufacturers about running the car in both the LMS and at the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Pos Cl Drivers Make
1. P1 P.Lamy, S.Sarrazin Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
2. P1 J.Charouz, S.Mucke, Yoong Lola B07/17 Judd
3. P1 J.Deletraz, M.Fassler, I.Alexander Lola B07/10 Audi
4. P1 J.Barbosa, S.Hall, M.Short Pescarolo Judd
5. P1 J.Boullion, R.Dumas Pescarolo Judd
6. P1 H.Primat, C.Tinseau Pescarolo Judd
7. P2 M.Amaral, A.M. De, Castro, A.B'gueno Lola B05/40 AER
8. P2 J.Nicolet, A.Filhol, B.Jouanny Courage LC75 AER
9. P2 T.Greaves, S.Moseley, R.Liddell Radical SR9 AER
10. GT1 S.Ortelli, S.Ayari Saleen S7-R
11. P2 V.Petrov, J.Gounon Courage LC75 AER
12. GT1 Perazzini G.Pier, M.Cioci, S.Tavano Saleen S7-R
13. GT1 C.Bouchut, G.Gardel, F.Gollin Aston Martin DBR9
14. P1 G.Evans, B.Berridge, P.Owen Lola B06/10 AER
15. P2 T.Burgess, J. de Pourtales, N.Siedler Pescarolo Judd
16. P2 T.Erdos, M.Newton MG Lola EX264 AER
38. P2 F.Lienhard, D.Theys, Van, De, E.Poele Lola B05/40 Judd
45. P2 B.Binnie, A.Timpany, C.Buncombe Lola B05/40 Zytek