Lola is pleased to released details of much anticipated development upgrades to the successful LMP1 LMP2 designs. The newly titled B10/60 LMP1 Coupe sees significant upgrades in both mechanical and aerodynamic areas. Lola LMP cars are set to race on both sides of the Atlantic in 2010, as well as at the 78th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

After winning the Le Mans Series LMP1 and LMP2 constructors titles in 2009, Lola continues to invest in developing its technical capabilities to ensure that the LMP designs enjoy a major advancement in pace ahead of the 2010 racing season.

As well as continual upgrading in CFD and Windtunnel facilities Lola has invested in its assembly and office areas as well as recruiting additional staff to bolster its already renowned design facility.

Lola has been a clear market leader in recent sportscar history with 60 LMP designs having sold since 1999. Through flexibility in technical and commercial strategies Lola supports an enviable client base. As well as top private teams such as Dyson Racing and RML, Lola has a proven track record with major manufacturers such as GM, , Nissan, MG, Aston Martin, Audi and Mazda.

Lola Cars Managing Director Robin Brundle will be interviewed on the Autosport Main Stage at 13.30 on Thursday afternoon together with Lord Paul Drayson from Drayson Racing and Guy Smith from Dyson Racing.

Q&A with Julian Sole, Chief Engineer, Lola Cars:

Q. What are the key changes that people will see for the 2010 season?

A. “We have done a lot of work on suspension geometry, improving both front and rear. There was quite a big focus on that this year. When the car is released you’ll be able to see the rear of the bodywork is a lot different. Everything rearwards from the door is different. We have also incorporated into the LMP1 the removable rear-end that we had on the LMP2 car last year.

Q: When did the planning for 2010 begin? Was it straight after the last race or was it influenced by the regulation announcement?

“We actually started work in the middle of last season. Then the regulation changes influenced us further, which meant that we had to extend the program (in the tunnel). In fact, that worked extremely well for us.”

Q. For 2010, what is the percentage split of mechanical and aerodynamic updates that have been made to the Lola LMP? Can you give an estimate?

A. “This year, in terms of development time spent, it is probably 50/50. We have completed a detailed aero programme and a lot of mechanical work as well. Probably more mechanical development for the 2010 spec car than we would normally consider. In addition a concentrated vehicle dynamics program has been undertaken on our 7-post test rig including all the new suspension geometry.”

Q. How did the regulation changes affect your work in the wind tunnel?

A. “The regulation changes, although they seem quite small, always affect the balance of the car and consequently the performance of the car. So, it’s just a case of working to improve the car within the new regulations. In practice it meant we had to change a few surfaces on the bodywork.”

Q. Obviously you know the car inside out after two full seasons of racing. How do you decipher the on track data and make decisions on which areas of the car to change?

A. “The focus of how much development we do each year and which areas we develop is not only an engineering decision, but also a commercial decision. We can’t do a new car every year because customers simply cannot afford to update to that level each year. We therefore tend to focus on smaller areas of the car so teams can update with kits to keep their cars moving forward in terms of pace. All the feedback we get from the teams will be useful in closing the loop and continuing the development of the cars. Drivers always give us an idea of the strengths of the car and we can focus on pushing even further forward.”

Q. What about the step by step process of development? How do the designers and the aerodynamicists work on it all practically?

A. “Our initial steps will often be taken using CFD, of which we have a very good capability at Huntingdon. Those areas with development potential will be identified and passed on to the wind tunnel team who will advance them further them prior to converting the data into full-size CAD surfaces. Then we release them to make tooling and components for the car.”

Q. Does the development program have bounds or do you continuously chip away at it little bit by little bit?

A. “ The answer is easy. You can’t exhaust the development you do on any project. It’s an ongoing process and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t consistently find more improvements. It’s just a case of carrying on and moving forward in whatever increments that can be achieved. Every new development generates a large number of options as to where we could go next. So the parts that make it onto the car are really just a point in time where we have to release the car, otherwise we would be constantly in a development circle. Once we have released to the car, we go back to the development side of it, pushing it forward ready for the next phase. We never really stop.”

Q. There is a fierce debate about CFD v Wind Tunnel – what’s your opinion on how this is helping the 2010 updates for the LMP?

A. “We use both and each has an important place in the development process. I wouldn’t really want to loose either of them. In terms of priority it’s a difficult call, because we rely on both. Each has strengths and weaknesses and we always try to play them to their strengths in order to push the development of the car forward as quickly as we can. Another area is 7-post rig testing which is carried out once we have the full-sized car. We run simulations to validate and focus the design areas and find where we can get the maximum improvement in lap time for our development strategy.”

Q. Please talk us through the interim regulations that the ACO announced last autumn?

A. “With the interim regulations for 2010, the changes centre on the bodywork around the rear wheels. Up until 2009 we have been able to just put wire mesh behind the rear wheels, which now the ACO would like removed. This is because the gauze gets damaged by lumps of rubber (marbles) and stones flicking up from the rear wheels and is pushed out, leaving mesh lying on the track which can be dangerous. The ACO have changed the regulations to incorporate a louvre panel rather than a mesh which is part of an interim rule because the 2011 regulations will be closing that area off totally. So, we will not be allowed any openings there at all eventually.”

Q. Any changes to the cockpit or the A/C systems or anything ergonomically within the tub itself?

A. “No, the ergonomics inside the tub tend to get honed quite a lot to the drivers’ requirements depending whether they are tall or short drivers. Various pieces get changed to suit them, so we try to allow as flexible an interior as we can, to accommodate the drivers’ needs. The A/C has been very successful, so we haven’t really done much work on changing it. It worked very reliably through last season, so we have kept that pretty much as it is.”

Q. Looking at the season, how easy is it for us to react to adding certain development parts – do you envisage Lola having an additional kit for certain specs of racetrack?

A. “Not necessarily. The car that we produce is very similar to the car that races in Europe at the low drag circuits and in America on high downforce circuits. We have to design a car that has a good range of downforce that may be adjusted and trimmed by the team. So, changing from high to low downforce quickly and easily as a standard design feature is a big advantage. I am glad to say we have this capability in abundance. As the season moves on, depending on the success of development work, we will often try to release update kits to the teams.”

All pictures Lola Heritage.

The new B10/60 LMP1 Coupe.

Lola Chief Designer Julian Sole.

The familiar shape of the 2009 model.