Lola celebrated a spectacular victory in the Denny Hulme Silverstone Endurance Trophy race for the Hagerty World Sportscar Masters, on the Saturday evening of the Silverstone Classic (28 July). What made the win even more special for the Huntingdon based marque was that its owner, Martin Birrane, took the chequered flag in the iconic Lola T70 Mk3B continuation series car.
The Hagerty World Sportscar Masters race proved one the most exciting of the weekend. A grand total of nine Lola cars, including seven brutish T70's, took centre stage in the huge entry list of 45 race cars from the late 1960s. The drivers battled it out over 90 minutes during the Saturday evening 'dusk race', with Lola cars dominating the track action, completing a first and third podium finish, with an impressive five Lola's finishing in the top ten.
Racing into the dusk in wet conditions at Silverstone, Birrane shared the driving duties with experienced Scottish racer Ron Cumming, who also performed wonders in the treacherous conditions to ensure the 5-litre blue and yellow car won by just under a minute.
Martin Birrane, Lola Group Executive Chairman, commented, "The weather conditions were truly dreadful, but Ron really showed what the car can do. It became very tricky towards the end of the race when I was in the car, but to win at such a terrific event as this, and with Lola's most famous design, feels absolutely fantastic, especially racing against the strong field that was here this weekend."
Another notable name driving a Lola sportscar at the Silverstone Classic was David Leslie, the former British Touring Car, F3 and Le Mans star. Scotsman Leslie, racing his privately owned Lola Mk 1, finished in 7th position during Sunday's Tony Rolt Trophy.
The Lola field competing at the Silverstone Classic also featured the Lola Mk 4, which signified the company's first involvement in Formula One in 1962; and the 1963 Mk 5 Formula Junior car, whose category of racing was eventually replaced by Formula 3 in 1964.
In addition to the 14 Lola cars competing on track, Lola sportscars also featured in a public display within the entertainment zone of the Silverstone Classic, showcasing the many diverse industries that Lola now supply within the divisions of the Group. The exhibition included the very first Lola, the Mk1, and the eye catching T92, which was recently re-united with its 1967 Indy 500 pilot, Sir Jackie Stewart.
The MG-Lola, raced at Le Mans in 2004 by RML, also drew in the crowds, and double Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 champion Mike Newton was on hand at the Lola Stand, describing what it feels like to drive a modern sportscar.
"It is quite something at Le Mans, primarily because of the downforce levels," said Newton. "I must say that Lola have designed great sportscars over the last decade or so. With a top team like RML running the car we have two Le Mans LMP2 titles and several Le Mans Series races under our belts now."
As well as state-of-the-art sportscars, a more recent single seater was also on display in the shape of the A1 GP Team Ireland car. The patriotic green 530bhp racer scored several top positions in the hands of Richard Lyons last season, the Ulsterman being somewhat of a Lola specialist after taking the 2005 Formula Nippon title in a Lola design. The A1 GP series will begin its third season at Zandvoort on September 30th this year, with the entire grid of cars designed and built by Lola.
Demonstrating the diversity of Lola, and its growing capabilities in a variety of industries, was the rare exhibition of the Voodoo UAV Aerial Target. Lola co-designed, tooled and manufactured the Voodoo for Meggitt Defence and has also been involved in the new Banshee design that recently enjoyed a successful maiden test flight.
In addition to the production of the Voodoo and Banshee UAV's, Lola are also involved in the prestigious Watchkeeper programme for the MOD, which is being undertaken by a consortium of companies led by Thales UK. The Lola Composites arm of the Group were earlier this year awarded the ISO9001:2000 and AS9100B certifications, which are International Quality management and Aerospace Standard, enabling Lola to expand its volume and range of producing advanced composite.
The Silverstone Classic also provided Lola with a fitting occasion to welcome Bob Marston, the Lola chief designer of the 70's, on to its stand for a rare public appearance. Marston's success stories include working with the team that produced the extremely attractive Lola T290 family of cars, which are now classed as classics of race car design. Supporting Eric Broadley (founder of Lola) and Bob Marston at the time were young designers Patrick Head and John Barnard, whose talent and skills, developed at Lola, took their careers into Formula 1, where they made a huge impact in the world of motorsport.
Next year will see Lola celebrate its 50th anniversary of designing and building not only racing cars, but also a vast array of Aerospace, Defense and Automotive products.