LOLA AT LE MANS: 1st QUALIFYING
Lola LMP contenders took part last night in the first official qualifying session for this weekends 78th running of the 24 Heures Du Mans. In dry conditions, seven LMP1 and three LMP2 Lola designed and built sports cars took on the 8.47 mile La Sarthe track after four hours of Practice earlier in the day.
Rebellion Racing had set impressive times in this session with their brace of Lola B10/60 cars. The qualifying session however saw frustration for the Swiss owned squad with the #12 car of Andretti/Prost and Jani not setting a time as the engineers evaluated the extent of suspension damage caused earlier in the day. The sister Lola of Boullion, Belicchi and Guys Smith had their fastest time deleted after Boullion was adjudged to have overtaken when a Red Flag was displayed during the two-hour session.
The V12 Aston Martin powered Lola’s of Signature Plus and Aston Martin Racing had a strong session. Stefan Mucke set some quick early times with the German placing the Lola B09/60 LMP1 coupe 4th in the early exchanges. He and team mates Harold Primat and Adrian Fernandez eventually finished in 8th position with a best of 3m26.680s to claim un-official petrol class LMP1 honours.
The 009 Lola Aston Martin of Darren Turner, Sam Hancock and Juan Barazi put on a late charge to claim 9th place while the black and white Signature Plus Lola was 10th with Frank Mailleux setting their best effort.
Drayson Racing made a variety of set up changes to their Lola-Judd LMP1 Coupe between the Practice and qualifying sessions. Emanuele Pirro set a best of 3m36.634s early on before Jonny Cocker and Paul Drayson completed laps. A late race stoppage on the Mulsanne Straight was a disappointing end to the day for the British team as they evaluated the technical problem.
American Le Mans Series regulars Autocon Motorsport were back in 35th position with their AER powered open cockpit Lola. The trio of Bryan Willman, Michael Lewis and Tony Burgess completed just 9 laps during the day after a gearbox problem stranded them out on track in the Free Practice session.
In LM2, the RML Lola-HPD had a very positive first day of running and the team were pleased with progress made despite being unable to get a traffic free lap. Thomas Erdos set the fastest time which was good enough for 5th in the LMP2 class but the team were confident that they could have eclipsed their earlier free practice time that was good enough for 3rd in class.
Racing Box ended 6th in LMP2 and after shaking off an earlier Fuel Pump problem. The all-Italian Dunlop shod Lola Coupe completed 21 laps concentrating on qualifying Le Mans rookies Luca Pirri, Piergiuseppe Perazzini and Marco Cioci. It was Cioci who set the best of 3m51.065s.
Kruse Schiller Motorsport opted for a conservative approach to yesterdays running with their Judd powered open cockpit Lola LMP2. The Cologne based team were delighted with the way their sessions went as all three drivers got valuable seat time in the car. Jonathan Kennard experienced his first laps of the Le Mans circuit well and the team wound up 9th in LMP2 without aiming for an ultimate fast lap and concentrating on race set ups and qualifying all three of their drivers.
All pictures courtesy of Jakob Ebrey
The 007 Lola Aston Martin of Harold Primat, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez.
The Signature Plus Lola Aston Martin of Pierre Ragues, Vanina Ickx and Franck Mailleux .
The Rebellion Racing Lola of Andrea Belicchi, Jean Christophe Boullion and Guy Smith.
One of the Aston Martin Racing Lolas.
Night falls at Le Mans.
The Drayson Racing Lola of Paul Drayson, Jonny Cocker and Emanuele Pirro.
The Autocon Lola AER 0f Michael Lewis, Bryan Willman and Tony Burgess.
The LMP2 Lola Judd of ASM driven by Jean de Pourtales, Hideki Noda and Johnathan Kennard.
The Signature Plus Lola Aston Martin in profile.