AUTOCON MOTORSPORTS TO FIELD LOLA LMP1 FOR 2006 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
Braselton, Ga. - Following a successful campaign in the 2005 American Le Mans Series, Autocon Motorsports has unveiled today its plans to return to the LMP1 class with an AER-powered Lola EX257 for the 2006 season.
Autocon is the first privateer team to confirm its entry for the eighth year of the American Le Mans Series. Many more are expected prior to the season-opening 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"The chassis-engine combination has proven it can be competitive with the best sports cars in the world," said Mike Lewis, Autocon Motorsports team owner. "We think that it will continue being a worthy contender during this period where teams are ebbing and flowing between the current generation and the next generation of cars."
Autocon's Lola is the No. 20 entry that previously had been fielded by Dyson Racing in the American Le Mans Series. Thanks to a rules extension by IMSA that extends the life of prototypes that were homologated under the LMP900 and P675 specs, the chassis remains eligible to compete in the American Le Mans Series through the end of 2006.
Lola EX257-AERs have driven to overall victories three times in the American Le Mans Series. In 2003, it became the first P675 (now LMP2) car to win an overall race.
Autocon plans to take possession of the Lola later this month and will begin testing shortly thereafter on tracks in the Western United States. The team does not anticipate attending the IMSA-organized Wheels Down Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway in January.
"Dyson Racing put a tremendous amount of development into these cars, had great drivers in them throughout, pushed the cars to their limits, and we have the great fortune of being recipients of their hard work, creativity, and knowledge," said Bryan Willman, one of three drivers who will pilot the car for Autocon in 2006.
Lewis will pilot the car in nine of the 10 races on the American Le Mans Series' 2006 schedule. Chris McMurry, a regular in the series' prototype ranks, will drive in eight races. Willman, who teamed with Lewis in six events in 2005, will drive in the three longest races of the season (Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championships), as well as at Houston, Salt Lake City and Portland.
As a group, the trio has combined for 68 ALMS starts, nine wins and 24 podiums.
"This came together as a result of an impromptu discussion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca," said McMurry. "Bryan and I raced together for three years (2002-2004) at Team Bucknum, and Michael and Bryan hooked up in the Riley & Scott this past year. There was immediate chemistry, camaraderie and commitment, and a few weeks later we have some exciting news."
"As has always been the case, we believe our privateer teams are the heart and soul of the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, series president and CEO. "It encourages me to see an operation like Autocon take what Dyson Racing, Lola and AER have built and make it their own. The plans being announced today represent a big step forward for Autocon, and it is gratifying to witness their growth and success as a top privateer team. On behalf of our series, and our fans, I want to thank Autocon for their commitment and the competition they bring to the American Le Mans Series."