|Lola sportscars got set for the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours during the official test day yesterday. Six Huntingdon built LMP racers will compete in the 75th running of the great race on June 16-17, three each in the LMP1 and LMP2 categories.
The test day offers the teams a chance to get familiar with the classic 8.48 mile track just 10 days before qualifying for the race begins. Yesterday, Lola teams set about getting Le Mans rookie drivers 'at one' with the circuit and working on putting more miles on the Lola's many different chassis/engine combinations.
SWISS SPIRIT GET SET TO SHOW HAND IN QUALIFYING
Swiss Spirit arrived at Le Mans with just one race behind them at Valencia in April. However, the potential of the Lola chassis and Audi engine, combined with the super efficient team brought a fine 3rd place on their first event. This result showed that this package is certainly one to watch at La Sarthe this year.
After a brief installation lap in the morning session, Marcel Fassler handed the car over to Iradj Alexander-David who at once familiarised himself with the demands of the Le Mans track in what was his first time in a prototype.
Jean Denis Deletraz, who has been instrumental in putting this project together along with team principal, Fred Stalder and team manager, Yann Cazaboun, also completed a useful number of laps. The only frustrating point of the day came at the end of the test when the team were denied some fast laps on new rubber by a lengthy red flag period that curtailed the test.
"We got all our programme completed except for the last few laps to see just what outright pace we had," confirmed Marcel Fassler. "The car felt good initially and everything looks positive for the real test which will be in qualifying."
CHAROUZ BED IN DRIVERS
Charouz Racing System also concentrated on giving their drivers as much running as possible on Sunday. The Judd powered red, white and blue Lola B07/17 has made a sensational start to its first season in sportscar competition with the teams trio of drivers of Alex Yoong, Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz scoring a brilliant 2nd place at the Valencia 1000kms.
Yesterday, the trio were recorded as setting a best lap of 3m36.2, however a glitch in the timing meant that a true quick lap of 3m34.8 was actually not officially registered. The team though are confident that they can go significantly quicker in a few weeks time.
"We will go much faster that is for sure," said Stefan Mucke. "We made some good changes and progress. As it was my first time at Le Mans for myself and also Jan (Charouz) I was also still finding the braking points and getting to know the track."
"The Lola feels very nice in the fast corners but we are still finding the limit for the car and taking some of the downforce off," continued Mucke. "We have a great team behind us and Frank Coppuck is a great engineer with some good plans on what we are going to do next week."
Both Alex Yoong and Jan Charouz completed full programmes during the day, with Charouz leaving the track immediately after the test to sit an exam at London University!
CHAMBERLAIN SATISFIED WITH FRUITFUL TEST
Chamberlain Synergy kick started their third consecutive Le Mans with a Lola chassis in fine style with the AER powered LMP1 Lola lapping quickly in the hands of Bob Berridge during the day.
The Hugh Chamberlain and Dave Lampitt led squad had a fruitful days running with Bob's team mates Peter Owen and Gareth Evans getting a good amount of laps in the yellow Lola.
The team will be looking for a strong finish this year after changing to Michelin rubber during the off season. A best time of 3m36.567s indicated that the Oxfordshire based team could be fighting for a top ten position come qualifying.
QUIFEL ASM LOOKING GOOD
The Portuguese Quifel ASM team finished the day 3rd fastest in the LMP2 category with their AER turbo charged Lola B05/40.
Posting a time of 3m40.613s the team were quietly satisfied with their days work, although like the rest of the Lola runners they did not go for an all out 'soft tyre' fast lap.
Miguel Amaral and Miguel De Castro have proven to be a great team alongside fellow LMS regular Angel Burgueno, but as was the case in 2006 Warren Hughes completes the driver line up at La Sarthe this year.
The former works Lola-MG racer set the quickest time yesterday and believes that the Antonio Simoes owned team is in a good position for this year's race.
"It's all very promising and our pace is good," confirmed Hughes. "The car is nice and easy to drive and feels more stable than last year. We have a lot more to come but we did some very useful work with the Dunlop tyres today. I am very encouraged with how things have gone and can't wait for next week to arrive."
RML START LMP2 HAT TRICK PLAN
Double Le Mans LMP2 champions, RML started an historic campaign for a hat-trick of titles over the weekend with Andy Wallace joining team regulars Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos.
After claiming first place in both 2005 and 2006, the Wellingborough based team are priming their Lola-AER package to go for an unprecedented third win.
With AER power and Michelin rubber, the patriotic red, white and blue Lola will be fighting the new Zytek LMP2 car and its fellow Lola's for LMP2 honours this year.
As usual the team conducted a precise programme for the duration of the day, ensuring that Andy Wallace reacquainted himself with the car, after 12 months away driving in the ALMS.
BINNIE IN THE HUNT FOR ANOTHER PODIUM
Binnie Motorsports put themselves in a good position to equal or perhaps better their terrific 2006 runners up position at Le Mans.
The Anglo-American team of Bill Binnie, Allen Timpany and Chris Buncombe finished up 5th fastest in LMP2 with the teams newcomer, Buncombe setting a fastest of 3m43.867s on what was his very first visit to the track. This was some 12 seconds faster than the Zytek engined Lola went in the 2006 version of the test day.
Using Kumho tyres, the team managed to complete a full test programme with all three drivers reporting good handling of the car, particularly through the daunting Porsche Curves.
COMING SOON: NEXT GENERATION LOLA
All of Lola's entries in this years Le Mans 24 Hours now await 'Le Mans week' which kicks off next Monday with the traditional scrutineering in the Place De Jacobins in Le Mans town centre.
As well as supporting their teams at Le Mans this year, Lola will also be revealing more details on their much anticipated B08/60 LMP Coupe. The design will be the first customer available Coupe LMP and is currently being built at Lola's HQ in Huntingdon, UK and is scheduled to be tested this winter.
TEST DAY LAP TIMES
Pos Team Class Time Gap
1 Team Peugeot Total LMP1 3.26.707
2 Audi Sport North America LMP1 3.28.277 1.570
3 Audi Sport North America LMP1 3.28.406 1.699
4 Pescarolo Sport LMP1 3.28.574 1.867
5 Team Peugeot Total LMP1 3.30.314 3.607
6 Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 3.30.613 3.906
7 Racing For Holland LMP1 3.34.035 7.328
8 Arena Motorsports LMP1 3.34.340 7.633
9 Creation Autosportif Ltd LMP1 3.34.398 7.691
10 Pescarolo Sport LMP1 3.34.941 8.234
11 Swiss Spirit Lola-Audi LMP1 3.35.672 8.965
12 Rollcentre Racing LMP1 3.35.896 9.189
13 Charouz Racing Lola-Judd LMP1 3.36.267 9.560
14 Courage Competition LMP1 3.36.373 9.666
15 Chamberlain Synergy Lola-AER LMP1 3.36.567 9.860
16 Barazi Epsilon LMP2 3.39.016 12.309
17 Barazi Epsilon LMP2 3.39.016 12.309
18 Courage Competition LMP1 3.40.520 13.813
19 Quifel ASM Team Lola-AER LMP2 3.40.613 13.906
20 RML Lola-AER LMP2 3.41.025 14.318
21 Binnie Motorsports Lola-Zytek LMP2 3.43.867 17.160 22 Bruichladdich Radical LMP2 3.43.985 17.278
23 Kruse Motorsport LMP2 3.47.145 20.438
24 Corvette Racing LMGT1 3.49.207 22.500
25 Pierre Bruneau LMP2 3.49.418 22.711
26 Aston Martin Racing LMGT1 3.50.848 24.141
27 Corvette Racing LMGT1 3.51.628 24.921
28 Team Oreca LMGT1 3.51.721 25.014
29 AMR Larbre Comp. LMGT1 3.51.822 25.115
30 Saulnier Racing LMP2 3.52.023 25.316
31 AMR BMS LMGT1 3.52.028 25.321
32 Aston Martin Racing LMGT1 3.52.170 25.463
33 Team Modena LMGT1 3.52.295 25.588
34 Alphand Aventures LMGT1 3.52.938 26.231
35 PSI Experience LMGT1 3.53.527 26.820
36 Noel Del Bello LMP2 3.53.955 27.248
37 Team Oreca LMGT1 3.54.176 27.469
38 Alphand Aventures LMGT1 3.54.625 27.918
39 AMR Larbre Comp. LMGT1 3.58.935 32.228
40 JLOC Isao Noritake LMGT1 3.59.355 32.648
41 Convers Menx Team LMGT1 4.01.593 34.886
42 Imsa Performance LMGT2 4.01.598 34.891
43 Autorlando Sport LMGT2 4.02.192 35.485
44 Flying Lizard Motorsport LMGT2 4.02.668 35.961
45 Risi Competizione LMGT2 4.03.422 36.715
46 Scuderia Ecosse LMGT2 4.04.635 37.928
47 Team LNT LMGT2 4.06.838 40.131
48 Risi Competizione LMGT2 4.07.529 40.822
49 Team LNT LMGT2 4.08.961 42.254
50 Spyker Squadron LMGT2 4.09.236 42.529
51 Seikel Motorsport LMGT2 4.09.347 42.640
52 Spyker Squadron LMGT2 4.09.904 43.197
53 GPC Sport LMGT2 4.11.629 44.922
54 AF Corse LMGT2 4.13.722 47.015
55 T2M Motorsport LMP2 4.24.078 57.371