RML TAKE LMP2 TITLE LEAD WITH 2ND PLACE AT SPA
Lola took another podium position in Sunday’s Spa 1000kms Le Mans Series round at Spa Francorchamps. The RML team of Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace finished 2nd in the ultra competitive LMP2 class with their Lola-HPD Coupe in typically difficult Ardennes weather conditions. It was an extraordinary race that was broken up by an electrical failure at the circuit, necessitating a red flag in the third hour. The race restarted after a 45-minute delay behind the safety car and RML put behind them an early stop for rear bodywork repairs to score more points for 2nd place.
Tommy Erdos drove an exceptional opening portion of the race, overtaking many cars as he rose through the field after a cautious start in treacherous conditions. The Lola-HPD was soon in 2nd place in the LMP2 class but its meteoric progress was halted by a pit stop to change the rear legality panels on the car. Due to a full course caution the time lost in the pits was not as bad as it could have been for the Wellingborough-based team and Erdos rejoined the race 8th in class.
Erdos then set about catching up the leading runners once more and was lapping sensationally quickly, overtaking his competitors and taking the class lead as the race was red flagged for the electrical problems.
After the re-start Erdos handed over driving duties to team mate Mike Newton who enjoyed a brief battle with the Quifel-ASM Ginetta of Miguel Amaral. Newton completed a double stint before Andy Wallace completed the race, which ended with a damp and then drying track. RML have now taken the title lead in LMP2 teams’ championship, leading the Oak Racing team by one point.
POINTS FOR REBELLION
Rebellion Racing scored more points in their quest to challenge for the LMP1 title this season. Jean Christophe Boullion and Andrea Belicchi finished 6th in LMP1 after an eventful race for the #13 Lola-Rebellion.
Boullion started the race and ran as high as 4th place overall, racing the factory Audi and Peugeot entries in the early exchanges. The experienced Frenchman survived an incident with the ORECA Peugeot of Olivier Panis at Eau Rouge and showed some excellent pace before the red flag interruption in the third hour.
Andrea Belicchi took over at this stage but soon experienced some technical difficulties and was forced to endure a series of enforced pit stops. In the closing stages Boullion took over but was forced to slow at the end of the race with gearbox problems.
The sister Lola-Rebellion driven by Neel Jani and Nico Prost was running in close contention to the #13 car throughout the early stages. Sadly however the car experienced gearbox problems shortly after Nico Prost took over after the race stoppage and the Frenchman parked the car just after the La Source hairpin.
Signature Plus gathered more valuable points at Spa with their Lola-Aston Martin LMP1. Pierre Ragues started the race in the black and white B09/60 and ran without incident until handing over to team mate Frank Mailleux. Some late race delays meant the team saw a certain 7th place disappear and when Vanina Ickx spun the car at Rivage the team were forced to settle for 7 points for an eventual 8th place finish.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR KSM
Kruse Schiller Motorsport had a very encouraging weekend at Spa both on and off the track. The German team were confirmed to have an entry at the Le Mans 24 Hours next month where they will campaign their third consecutive race at La Sarthe in a Lola LMP2 car.
The Judd-powered open cockpit Lola showed tremendous pace all weekend at Spa with Jonathan Kennard qualifying the car in 8th place and making excellent progress in the first two hours of the race. The British newcomer to sports cars was up to 3rd in LMP2 at one stage despite an early unscheduled pit stop for new tyres after a spin.
Running in a consistent 5th place in LMP2, the KSM entry was involved in an accident just before the red flag when the Peugeot of Franck Montagny hit Kennard. A heroic effort by the team to get the car repaired was rewarded by Jean De Portales increased pace after the re-start but a gear selection problem stopped the car’s impressive performance in the fourth hour. However, it was on the whole a positive weekend for Kai Kruse and Hardy Schiller’s team and they now focus on the Le Mans 24 Hours in just four weeks’ time.
Racing Box endured a mixed weekend at Spa with a fine 5th place finish in LMP2 for the Andrea Piccini, Giacomo Piccini and Ferdinando Geri Lola-Judd but also a badly damaged second entry after Fillipo Francioni crashed heavily at Eau Rouge on the opening lap.
The all-Italian team has split their cars to run on both Dunlop and Pirelli rubber at Spa to evaluate their options for the rest of the season. A lengthy pit stop for the #30 car in the hands of the rapid Andrea Piccini ensured the aim of a podium was just out of reach this weekend.
Lola sports cars will be in action again in two weeks’ time when the third round of the American Le Mans Series takes place at Laguna Seca in California.
All pictures Lola Heritage
Tommy Erdos on the limit in the RML Lola-HPD.
Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace on the Spa podium.
Jean Christophe Boullion in the Rebellion Racing LMP1.
Jonathan Kennard in the KSM Lola-Judd LMP2.
Jonathan Kennard in the KSM Lola-Judd LMP2.
Andrea Piccini, Giacomo Piccini and Ferdinando Geri in the Racing Box LMP2 Lola-Judd.
Nico Prost in #12 Lola-Rebellion LMP1 Coupe.
The view most of the LMP2 competitors had of the RML Lola.
The Signature Plus LMP1 Lola-Aston of Pierre Ragues, Frank Mailleux and Vanina Ickx.
A moment to reflect.