PODIUM SUCCESS FOR LOLA AT PETIT LE MANS.
Lola completed a successful title winning season of racing in the United States last weekend by clinching more podium positions in the final round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series and the penultimate round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Finishing in a highly creditable 3rd place overall, the Aston Martin Racing squad of Adrian Fernandez, Stefan Mucke and Harold Primat completed a trouble-free run in their V12 powered Lola. The Banbury based team finished off a tough season with this strong result and Mucke was delighted to have been part of the team that took the unofficial petrol class honours.
"It was pretty much a perfect race for us really," said the German. "The team deserve this after a frustrating season and it is a big credit to them that we can do the maximum in the Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 and come away with such a top result as this. My stints were great and as long as you kept on top of the traffic it was easy to maintain a good pace."
Rebellion Racing competed in their second ever race on American soil and once again came away with a strong top five finish with their Lola-Toyota LMP1. This time Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were joined by Andrea Belicchi and the trio entered in fine form after taking the Le Mans Series teams title just a few days earlier at Estoril. Qualifying saw the Swiss team set the best petrol time and Belicchi was racing in 3rd place overall when contact with a GT car saw the Toyota V8 powered Lola lose four laps in the gravel trap.
A tenacious come-back drive then ensued for Rebellion Racing and the well-drilled team were justly rewarded with a fine 5th position at the chequered flag to consolidate their 4th place in the ILMC points standings.
Dyson Racing also arrived at Road Atlanta having already tied up the ALMS titles at Laguna Seca two weeks previously. Both the #16 Dyson Lola-Mazda and the #20 Oryx Dyson Lola-Mazda had difficult starts to the race, the former having to start from the pit lane after a late engine change. However, this was the cue for a spectacular charge through the 53 car grid, one that team owner and driver Chris Dyson enjoyed enormously, saying "With the turbocharged Mazda engine behind us, we had the power and it was a thrill to carve through traffic. It was a joy to drive and I did not want to get out of the car. I was in it for almost three hours and felt like I could have done another two.”
Guy Smith and Jay Cochran also had impressive stints at the wheel despite the car ultimately stopping with oil cooler damage after contact in traffic. Despite this the Dunlop-shod Lola B09/46 LMP1 was classified in 2nd place in the ALMS LMP standings and the Dyson trio were able to take to the podium to enjoy a fantastic end to their season.
The #20 Oryx Dyson Lola-Mazda had a more difficult weekend after an accident just after the first hour eliminated them from the proceedings. Butch Leitzinger hit the wall at Turn One bringing out a full course caution but the experienced American was able to climb from the Lola designed and built LMP unharmed despite the violence of the frontal impact.
MuscleMilk Racing also had an early end to their 2011 Petit Le Mans. The runners up in this year’s ALMS had qualified in a fine ( ) with the Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 but retired just before the second hour after problems with their V12 Aston Martin engine.
This was a particularly emotional moment for team owner Greg Pickett who said farewell to a long and successful career in top line sports car racing. "This will likely be my last drive in a P1 car, I'll probably test and play around but I think it's time for me to get out when the getting is good. I very much enjoyed my session. When I can start my race like this, with such a quality field and bring the car in after my stint in sixth place overall, obviously makes me very, very happy. I enjoyed it immensely."
Autocon finished in 8th place in LMP1 with their familiar orange-liveried Lola B06/10-AER. Bryan Willman, Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry endured several incidents on their way to the finish but the small team from California were delighted to have completed the gruelling 1,000 mile event.
The season ends for Lola at the final round of the ILMC at Zhuhai in China next month where Rebellion Racing will be in action for the Huntingdon-based race car manufacturer.
Petit Le Mans Race Results - 394 laps
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. P1 Montagny/Sarrazin/Wurz Peugeot 9h34m23.972s
2. P1 Lapierre/Minassian/Gene ORECA Peugeot + 5 laps
3. P1 Fernandez/Primat/Mucke AMR Lola-Aston + 6 laps
4. P1 Pla/Premat/Yvon OAK Pescarolo-Judd + 10 laps
5. P1 Prost/Jani/Belicchi Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 13 laps
6. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa Level 5 HPD + 19 laps
7. P1 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues OAK Pescarolo-Judd + 24 laps
8. PC Dobson/Richard/Lewis PR1 Mathiasen FLM + 26 laps
9. PC Ducote/Ducote/Marcelli Intersport FLM + 26 laps
10. GT Fisichella/Bruni/Kaffer AF Corse Ferrari + 27 laps
11. GT Bergmeister/Long/Pilet Flying Lizard Porsche + 27 laps
12. GT Auberlen/Werner/Farfus BMW + 27 laps
13. P2 Brown/Johansson/Patterson United OAK Pescarolo + 27 laps
14. GT Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook Corvette + 28 laps
15. GT Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger Falken Porsche + 29 laps
16. GT Sharp/van Overbeek/Farnbacher Extreme Speed Ferrari + 29 laps
17. P1 Dyson/Smith/Cochran Dyson Lola-Mazda + 31 laps
18. GT Firman/Jakubowski/Halliday Luxury Ferrari + 33 laps
19. GT Neiman/Holzer/Law Flying Lizard Porsche + 33 laps
20. GT Muller/Hand/Priaulx BMW + 35 laps
21. GT Brown/Cosmo/Bell Exteme Speed Ferrari + 37 laps
22. P2 Mailleux/Ordonez/Vernay Signatech ORECA-Nissan + 37 laps
23. GT Miller/Maassen/Collard Miller Porsche + 37 laps
24. GTE-A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari + 39 laps
25. GTE-A Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel Larbre Corvette + 41 laps
26. GT Robertson/Snow/Murry Robertson Doran Ford + 44 laps
27. GTC Pappas/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen Black Swan Porsche + 48 laps
28. GTC Sweedler/Wong/Keen Alex Job Porsche + 48 laps
29. GTC Ende/Pumpelly/Ludwig TRG Porsche + 49 laps
30. PC Jeannette/Gonzalez/Junco CORE Autosport FLM + 54 laps
31. GTE-A Kauffman/Aguas/Bell AF Corse Ferrari + 56 laps
32. P1 Burgess/McMurry/Willman Autocon Lola-AER + 58 laps
33. GTE-A Giroix/Kauffman/Wainwright Gulf Aston Martin + 62 laps
34. PC Lux/Julian/Zugel/Grogor Genoa FLM + 67 laps
35. PC Bennett/Montecalvo/Dalziel CORE Autosport FLM + 70 laps
36. P2 Nicolet/da Rocha/Lafargue OAK Pescarolo-Judd + 70 laps
37. GT Ortelli/Makowiecki/Beltoise Luxury Ferrari + 78 laps
38. P2 Tucker/Franchitti/Diaz Level 5 HPD + 80 laps
39. GTE-A Ehret/Mullen/Wills CRS Ferrari + 84 laps
40. P1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish Audi + 92 laps
41. P1 Bernhard/Dumas/Fassler Audi + 98 laps
42. PC Nicolosi/Boon/Lueders Performance Tech FLM + 101 laps
GTC von Moltke/Norman/Keating TRG Porsche 247 laps
GT Rossiter/Mowlem/Hansson Jetalliance Lotus 237 laps
GT Slingerland/Rich/Kasper Jetalliance Lotus 197 laps
GTE-A Lietz/Ried/Bullitt Proton Porsche 163 laps
GT Junqueira/Wilden/James RSR Jaguar 92 laps
P1 Bourdais/Pagenaud/Davidson Peugeot 78 laps
GT Beretta/Milner/Garcia Corvette 76 laps
P1 Luhr/Graf/Pickett Muscle Milk Lola-Aston 63 laps
P1 Al Masaood/Kane/Leitzinger Dyson Lola-Mazda 29 laps
GT Jones/Moran/Lewis RSR Jaguar 27 laps