As Audi swept to an all conquering 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans, Lola Cars International owned by Ballina native Martin Birrane, had every reason to celebrate too with a memorable Class win in the world's toughest 24-hour endurance race. The B2K/40...
As Audi swept to an all conquering 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans, Lola Cars International owned by Ballina native Martin Birrane, had every reason to celebrate too with a memorable Class win in the world's toughest 24-hour endurance race. The B2K/40 SR2 sportscar, run by Canadian team Multimatic Motorsports, took the laurels in the LMP675 category, completing 274 laps of the famous La Sarthe circuit in France, finishing 8 laps ahead of its nearest rivals, a WR Peugeot LMP, which achieved pole position here five years ago.
The success was a remarkable achievement for a team that had never before competed at Le Mans and that was using a car just three weeks old. With a trio of Canadian drivers behind the wheel - Scott Maxwell, John Graham and Greg Wilkins - the Nissan engined Lola triumphed thanks to a mix of strength, reliability and teamwork.
Team owner Larry Holt said: "The car was terrific. It's handling was superb and it never changed one per cent throughout the race. This car is well suited to teams like us as it is the best SR2 car available. If you want to be competitive in this category you have to have a Lola!"
Around the gruelling high-speed 8.45-mile circuit, the Multimatic Lola-Nissan B2K/40 took control of the Class shortly after the 12-hour mark. With scorching temperatures making this year's Le Mans the hottest and toughest for drivers for nearly 20 years, the team had a slight scare towards the end of the race when the car's engine temperature ran high. But, with a cushion of eight laps, the drivers were able to reduce their pace and keep a watchful eye on the temperature to the end to record the class win and finish 26th overall.
Another manufacturer with Irish connections to make an impression was U.S. based Panoz Motorsports. Under the watchful eye of former Elan Pharmaceutical Corporation (Athlone) Chief Don Panoz, no less than five Panoz LMP Roadsters (all bearing a green shamrock in its logo) were entered. As it turned out it was the two David Price Racing run Roadsters that put up the strongest challenge to Audi's domination before gearbox gremlins somewhat showed their progress. However, the Elan Power Product V8 engined No. 12 and No. 23 Panoz Roadsters achieved a credible result with 5th and 6th overall after completing 342 and 340 laps respectively.