LOLA TAKE FOURTH CONSECUTIVE LMP2 TITLE
Lola celebrated an unprecedented fourth consecutive Le Mans LMP2 class victory today, as Binnie Motorsports crossed the chequered flag after 24 hours of untroubled racing at the world's toughest motor race. The Anglo/American trio of team principal Bill Binnie and fellow drivers Allen Timpany and Chris Buncombe negotiated the fabled La Sarthe circuit without significant stoppages to register the Huntingdon constructors fourth win in succession and the fifth in seven years.
As well as taking the LMP2 victory, the blue and white Lola finished 18th overall. The Lola B05/40 Zytek did not skip a beat during the gruelling event and finished a full 17 laps ahead of their nearest LMP2 rival.
Bill Binnie, who also tasted class success with a Lola B2K/40 in 2003 was ecstatic with his team's performance and said: "I am not surprised that we have done so well. We were careful and well planned and that paid dividends for us. As a team everyone played their part and it is just a great, great feeling to win after such difficult conditions at the beginning and the end of the race."
Both Bill Binnie and Allen Timpany drove a series of solid and clean stints during some poor weather at the beginning of the race and several safety car inducing accidents. Their team mate, Chris Buncombe impressed greatly in his first ever Le Mans 24 Hours and was rewarded by being chosen to cross the finishing line, triggering wild celebrations in the Binnie Motorsports pits. The team even survived a last hour electrical scare to take the chequered flag in torrential rain.
Commenting on the Lola LMP2's reliability and strength, Chris Buncombe said: "I had no doubts about the Lola not making the finish. Everything felt right for our strategy and it all went perfectly to plan. Apart from a bit of slight contact early in the race, it was a faultless performance from the whole package and especially the team who were fantastic."
CHAROUZ AND CHAMBERLAIN-SYNERGY CLAIM HARD FOUGHT LMP1 FINISHES
As well as triumphing in the LMP2 class, Lola sportscars also registered notable LMP1 finishes, underlining the strength and pace of Lola's sportscar designs. Charouz Racing System encountered five punctures, a large accident and a pit fire but came through to finish a brilliant 8th overall and 5th in LMP1. The Judd powered car, driven by Stefan Mucke, Alex Yoong and Jan Charouz also proved to be the fastest of the petrol LMP1 cars, outpacing its rivals in the fastest lap stakes.
"We seemed to ensure more than our fair share of bad luck over the 24 hours," said Alex Yoong after the race. "But that showed the character of the team through and through. The Lola took a real hammering but it is one tough car. To finish 5th in the LMP class is a real achievement considering all the incidents."
The Chamberlain Synergy Lola B07/10- AER driven by Bob Berridge experienced a puncture on the first lap, with the force of the blow triggering damage to the rear light. Berridge steered the yellow colours of the Chamberlain Synergy LMP2 back to the pits to change the tyre. More problems were encountered and overcome throughout the race by the tenacious team who were delighted to register their first classification in three attempts at the endurance classic. As the race entered the second half of the 24 hours, the Oxfordshire based squad demonstrated both their and the Lola's resilience by making progress up the leader board. The Chamberlain Synergy Lola B07/10 - AER team eventually finished 20th overall and an excellent 7th in place.
Of the six Lola's entered this weekend, sadly three failed to make it to the chequered flag. Swiss Spirit (Lola-Audi), Quifel- ASM (Lola-AER) and RML (MG-Lola) all retired despite some exceptional efforts by all three teams in difficult conditions.