LOLA AIM FOR DOUBLE CLASS GLORY AT SEBRING First blood to the new Lola B05/40 sports car was drawn yesterday, when it captured the LMP2 pole position on its debut outing at Sebring in readiness for Saturday's Sebring 12 Hours. Jon Field driving...
LOLA AIM FOR DOUBLE CLASS GLORY AT SEBRING
First blood to the new Lola B05/40 sports car was drawn yesterday, when it captured the LMP2 pole position on its debut outing at Sebring in readiness for Saturday's Sebring 12 Hours. Jon Field driving the Intersport entry produced three fast, consistent times in consecutive practice sessions in the all-new Lola to record the fifth fastest time overall for Saturday's 12-Hour classic at the Florida airfield track, lining up just behind two Audi R8s and the two Dyson Racing LolaB01/60's, which yet again impressed in the LMP1 category as they solely take the fight to the previously all-conquering Champion Audi R8's.
GUY SMITH STARTS 3RD ON THE GRID IN HIS FIRST RACE FOR DYSON
Sadly torrential rain forced the IMSA organisers to cancel Thursday afternoon's qualifying session for the opening round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series. Instead they made an aggregate of two dry practice sessions run on Wednesday. JJ Lehto set the fastest time in the first dry session in the Champion Racing Audi R8, then Dyson Racing's new recruit Guy Smith, the 2003 Le Mans winner, was quickest in the second session in the Lola shared with Chris Dyson.
Jon Field, driving with Duncan Dayton and Gregor Fisken, was fourth quickest in the second session, splitting the two Dyson Racing entries despite handling a car built to the latest LMP2 regulations at 750 kg (that is, 75 kg heavier than the Dyson team's B01/60's), with a sloping floor and 'plank' along the centreline. All three race with the AER 4-cylinder, turbocharged 2-litre engine. The new Lola had a huge 2.917 seconds over it's nearest LMP2 challenger, the Courage C65 of Miracle Motorsports.
"This is a serious race car," said Field after the grid had been established. "Lola seems to have everything right. When you make a change to the car, it responds. It sits well on the circuit, it has been well designed and it is fun to drive. There is more time in the car but we don't know how much. Every time we make a change, the car gets better. The car came out of the Lola factory on Friday and arrived here on Sunday in a box. We are really pleased with the pace right out of that box!
"We have just scratched the surface," continued a delighted Field, "and Sebring is a rough track, but this car is really strong, not flimsy at all."
BILL BINNIE IN THE NEW NICHOLSON McLAREN POWERED LOLA B05/40
Duncan Dayton, a fellow competitor in the Historic series, introduced Scot, Gregor Fisken, to the Intersport team and it is his baptism in prototype racing. His previous experience in the American Le Mans Series has been at the wheel of Porsche GT3s.
The most successful US sportscar team in history -- Dyson Racing were disappointed that they could not show yet more pace in the cancelled second session but Andy Wallace believes that race pace for the blue and white LMP1 Lola's will not be a problem after some astonishing testing times at Sebring last month.
"All the times are two or three seconds slower than when we tested here last month" said Andy, who shares a Dyson Racing Lola B01/60 with James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger. "We think that some historic racing last weekend has put a lot of oil down, but today's torrential rain should clean it up nicely. We would expect to see faster times on Friday."
Weaver's Lola was qualified on Wednesday with a high-mileage AER engine which had done a lot of testing, and was not performing as well as it should on Friday with a fresh engine installed. The experienced Englishman however is confident for the race, which begins on Saturday morning.
Fourth quickest in the LMP2 class was William Binnie's new Lola B05/40, shared with highly rated British racer Adam Sharp and Canada's Bobby Julien, which was hampered by an installation problem on the Nicholson McLaren V8 engine's alternator, which drives off the rear of a camshaft, and suffered some low voltage difficulties. "We had a challenging week," said Binnie. "We had some software problems but the chassis is very good. The other Lola has an engine, which is familiar to Lola, but the Nicholson engine is new. The car, and my co-drivers, are exceptionally quick and there is a lot of time yet in the car. The car feels like several generations on from the B2K/40, better by a long way."
Five of the new LMP2 B05/40 chassishave been sold, four of which aim to race at the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours in June.J
Intersport Racing's second car of Clint Field/Gareth Ridpath and Liz Halliday lines up in 5th place in LMP2 after suffering some problems in the practice sessions. The car that won the Sebring 12 Hours LMP2 category last year is supported by new title partner, Telesis, this season.
CLINT FIELD WILL BE AIMING FOR A SECOND CONSECUTIVE LMP2 WIN AT SEBRING IN THE LOLA B2K/40
Technically the B05/40 has been built to race with any of the currently available sportscar engines. Of the first four Lola customers there are three units powering the cars. These are the Judd 3.4 litre V8, the four cylinder AER 2 litre turbo and the Nicholson McLaren V8 engine. Lola have refined and evolved the six-speed paddle shift gearbox, which now fits in to a separate main case and bell housing.
The B05/40 also boasts a large range in aerodynamic adaptability with an array of wing assembly's available for customers to race at a variety of circuits. The car also features two starter motors and a double battery system that will mean failsafe getaways from pit starts.
The last word in the run up to the big race on Saturday goes to Champion Racing's star driver -JJ Lehto, who, obviously worried about the pace of both the old and new Lola's on the grid, nervously said; "Intersport are just an old team with a new car and we are not that worried about them. Dyson also have a lot of work still to do."