LOLA LE MANS SERIES PREVIEW
Eight Lola sports cars head to Paul Ricard in the South of France this weekend for the opening round of the 2010 Le Mans Series. Lola LMP racers will do battle with former Le Mans winners Audi and Peugeot on the challenging 5.79km circuit, where most of the teams tested last month in readiness for the sixth season of the Le Mans Series.
Team by Team Preview
#12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Rebellion LMP1
A brace of 2010 spec Rebellion Racing Lola LMP1 are entered for the new season with one of the strongest driver line-ups in the field. After showing tremendous progress in his first season of LMP in 2009, Nicolas Prost returns for a second year with the team. Prost is joined by former A1 GP champion Neel Jani, who is relishing driving the updated and re-liveried Lola-Rebellion LMP1.
#13 Rebellion Racing Lola-Rebellion LMP1
“I must say that the team has taken another step up this season,” said the Swiss racer. “The Rebellion - Lola LMP1 looks fantastic in the new livery and is very distinctive. I really like the fact that it is a little bit different from normal schemes.
“The corners and circuit layout at Ricard will make for a great race next month and the whole Rebellion Racing team are looking forward to it,” continued Jani. “It will be a very hard race but we did some good preparations and know we can challenge at the front.”
The sister Rebellion - Lola LMP1 will be driven by team regular Andrea Belicchi and new recruit Jean Christophe Boullion. Boullion, who is recognised as one of the finest sports car drivers in the world, has settled in to the team after pre-season tests at Portimao, Portugal and at the official Ricard test session last month.
#008 Signature Plus Lola-Aston Martin LMP1
Reigning champions, Aston Martin Racing return to the series with their Huntingdon designed and built Lola LMP1 entry this weekend. The Banbury based team scored two superb wins at Barcelona and Nurburgring last season and after a strong podium finish at the Sebring 12 Hours last month they will look to start their defence of the title in strong fashion this weekend.
#009 AMR Lola-Aston Martin LMP1
New team recruit Adrian Fernandez is joined by team regular Harold Primat. Fernandez is well acquainted with Lola racecars having won in ChampCar and also in the American Le Mans Series in 2007 aboard an LMP2 Lola. The Mexican is returning to race in Europe three years on from his debut at Le Mans.
Signature Plus will campaign one of the ex-AMR Lola B09/60 LMP1’s this season with their familiar pairing of Pierre Ragues and ex Euro F3 front runner, Franck Mailleux. Joining them this year will be yet another legendary motorsport name; Vanina Ickx, the daughter of six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx will race for the team at Paul Ricard and she has plenty of experience in LMP1 under her belt.
#25 RML Lola-HPD LMP2After a frustrating 2009 campaign, RML return with their familiar red, white and blue Lola LMP2 for a seventh consecutive season in the Le Mans Series. The 2007 LMP2 champions will this year use the Honda Performance Development (HPD) V8 engine that has been so successful in the American Le Mans Series over the last two seasons.
RML’s 2010 package certainly had an encouraging start at the official Paul Ricard test last month with the car achieving the fastest speed through the Mistral Straight speed traps at 181mph. RML also announced in the off-season that they will use Dunlop tyres throughout 2010.
The team will field a well-known and well-proven trio of drivers this season with Mike Newton, Tommy Erdos and Andy Wallace all in action this weekend in the 8-hour enduro.
"The car continues to live up to the promise we saw after that first shakedown at Silverstone (in February),” said Mike Newton. “I’m impressed just how comfortable it is to drive, and how it inspires confidence.”
#29 and #30 Racing Box Lola-Judd LMP2After a spectacular LMP debut season in 2009, Racing Box return with their brace of Lola B09/80 sports cars for a full Le Mans Series season this year. With new drivers and, after a four-year absence from LMP, Pirelli rubber, the Italian team will be looking to add to their 2009 Barcelona success this weekend.
In the #29 Lola-Judd for Paul Ricard will be Marco Cioci who has previously won in the LMS GT2 class. He will join Piergiuseppe Perazzini and Luca Pirri, both of whom have run in GT racing in recent years and will be looking to gain as much experience as possible in LMP this year.
The #30 Lola-Judd will be raced by brothers Andrea and Giacomo Piccini, who both drove with the team, although not together, last season. Team owner Ferdinando Geri will join the siblings after getting valuable experience of the Lola-Judd at last autumns Vallelunga 6 hour race where he was part of the winning team.
#39 Kruse-Schiller Motorsport Lola-Judd LMP2The only open cockpit Lola in the Le Mans Series field this weekend, returns to action for the first time since last years Le Mans 24 Hours.
Kai Kruse and Hardy Schiller’s team have had a busy winter changing their powerplant to Judd. Jean De Pourtales and Hideki Noda will provide continuity on the driving side, while respected engineer Gavin Wills returns to engineer the car.
“The whole rear end of the car was re-engineered but worked fine from the very first minute,” said Hardy Schiller. “ Now I can't wait to see our car racing again this weekend.”