Lola Cars announced Thursday at the Autosport International Show that the first customer of its new B08/60 LMP1 coupe will be Charouz Racing Systems, utilizing a V12 Aston Martin engine. The unique entry will compete in the European-based Le Mans...
Lola Cars announced Thursday at the Autosport International Show that the first customer of its new B08/60 LMP1 coupe will be Charouz Racing Systems, utilizing a V12 Aston Martin engine. The unique entry will compete in the European-based Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, entry permitting.
Charouz and Aston Martin Racing are taking advantage of new regulations for 2008 which allow the use of production-based engines in a prototype chassis. The same engine that powers the Aston Martin DBR9 GT1 car will be used in the Charouz Lola. The six liter, V12 powerplant and drivetrain will be repackaged by Aston Martin Racing and Lola to fit in the rear of the newest LMP1 challenger.
"The V12 unit has already proven that it has the performance and endurance to win at Le Mans," George Howard-Chappell, team principal for Aston Martin Racing said. "We are now looking forward to the challenge of repackaging it in a new lighter chassis and seeing how competitive it can be in the prototype class. It will be great new experience for me and all the team here at Aston Martin Racing."
Tomas Enge, Stefan M?cke and Jan Charouz will pilot the Michelin-shod Lola Aston Martin in the 2008 season. All three have been contracted by Aston Martin Racing and placed with the team.
Charouz Racing Systems made its sports car racing debut in 2007, running a Lola B07/10 Judd in the LMS and 24 Hours of Le Mans. M?cke, Charouz and Alex Yoong landed a podium finish in the second LMS round at Valencia, backed up by a fourth at the N?rburgring in July. Showcasing impressive straight-line speed, the entry finished fifth in-class at Le Mans, eighth overall.
For 2008 though, it's a totally new challenge, veering away from the typical chassis-engine combination usually found in prototypes.
"Our cooperation with Prodrive and Aston Martin Racing has been a long and fruitful one," said team owner Antonin Charouz. "We are very happy that we have found an even closer relationship for the upcoming season. While GT1 engines are based on those from the road car, Aston Martin Racing has proven how competitive they can be as an endurance race engine. I believe the combination of Prodrive's extensive racing experience, particularly at Le Mans, and the Aston Martin V12 engine's pedigree, should make for a very competitive package in 2008."
Enge has experience behind the wheel of the Prodrive-built Aston Martin DBR9s. The rapid Czech driver competed with Aston Martin Racing in the 2006 American Le Mans Series season as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in '05 and '06 where he scored class pole positions for the British marque. Last season, Enge drove Ferraris both in the ALMS and FIA GT Championship and was slated to be back behind the wheel of the DBR9 at Le Mans, but was sidelined from the event due to an injury.
"I am very excited to be driving for Aston Martin Racing again and also to be part this new project where both Prodrive and Charouz Racing System are involved," he said. "Our car is a brand new one, so there is a lot of work ahead but I am already looking forward to it. It is a real challenge for me. I always wanted to drive a powerful LMP1 car and am looking forward to a strong fight with our diesel-powered competition."
A veteran of the DTM, M?cke returns to Charouz for his second season in endurance racing. The Berlin native enjoyed a busy 2007, with drives in not only the LMS but also in FIA GT and ALMS. He started 2008 off at Daytona International Speedway, testing a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype for the first time. M?cke is pleased to be part of this new venture between Charouz and Aston Martin Racing.
"I am very happy that I will be part of this unique project!" he said. "I think that it is a good package of drivers, car and engine and I am confident that we will be able to be successful. Like Jan Charouz, I made my debut in the Le Mans Series only last year and the championship attracted me as well."
Twenty-year-old Jan Charouz also got his start in prototype racing in 2007, driving for his father's team. The 2006 F3000 International Masters (formally Euro Formula 3000) Champion paired with M?cke in the LMS and also took part in the ALMS Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta last October. He, M?cke and co-driver Danny Watts raced the Zytek Motorsport LMP2 entry to a third-in-class result, finishing fourth overall. Charouz also got his first taste of a DP last weekend at Daytona. He's hopeful that with the support of Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive, they'll be able to fight for wins in the LMS.
"It is a great opportunity for me," Jan Charouz said. "To drive for a brand like Aston Martin Racing is a big honor for me. Charouz Racing System has already proven it was quick last year during its debut season in the Le Mans Series and even though the car is new, I believe the involvement of Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive will make the team even stronger. I must say that the last Le Mans Series season enchanted me a lot and I am pleased to continue there. I am very happy that I will race in such a good team and with quick team-mates like Tomas Enge and Stefan Mucke. I believe we can fight at the front."