675 class belongs to Lola-MG's at Le Mans Test.
Lola Cars International personnel had a busy weekend at a very cold and occasionally wet Le Mans 24 Hourstrack over the weekend, as four Lolas ran in the official test weekend of the ACO.
The cars built by Lola for MG Sport & Racing, powered by the X-Power engine developed by AER for MG, and run by the CMS team, showed very well in the hands of Mark Blundell, Julian Bailey, Jonny Kane and Kevin McGarrity, and ended the day fifth and eighth on the time sheets overall, and easily first and second in the 675 LMP class - where the 'works' cars were joined by aprivateer Lola MG, from the USA.
The KnightHawk Racing Lola EX257 completed a Lola clean sweep of the LMP675 class when Duncan Dayton set third fastest time in class, a time of three minutes 48.326 seconds. The team was brand new to Le Mans and was delayed only by a breakage in the gearbox during the morning session.
Lola also supported a fourth car, an LMP900/SR1 class Lola B2K/98, run by the FrenchDAMS squad, for drivers Michel Neugarten, Emmanuel Clerico and Philippe Gache, which is taking part in a feature film about the French comic strip racing driver Michel Vaillant, set 18th fastest time overall. "We are not allowed to push," said Gache. Lola will be working with the film crew and DAMS through the 24 Hours and in filming after the June race, and we are told that the blue 98/10 is the car that will belong to the 'good guys' in the film.
Overall, the test day held more than a few surprises. Rinaldo Capello set Le Mans alight when he set fastest time in his Audi R8. The Italian's time of 3m30.296 was nearly two seconds clear of second-placed Stephane Sarrazin in the ORECA-powered Dallara. Capello beat Herbert's fastest lap and last year's fastest trials time despite a revised section of track past the Dunlop bridge.
Mark Blundell raised the most eyebrows when the Briton raced to fifth fastest timein the LMP675 MG Lola, beating the likes of the Bentley, Dome and Courage. The Briton went out in the dying minutes and beat the best time set by Jonny Kane in the second car that had suffered two oil leaks during the day.
The Bentley came in sixth fastest, Eric van de Poele setting the best time of the three drivers, while Panoz was testing its new bodywork for the first time having shaken the car down at Road Atlanta. David Brabham set a time of3m36.103s that was good enough for 12th.
In the nearer production classes, Tomas Enge, a Lola driver in F3000, stormed away from the rest of the GTS field in his Ferrari 550; and in the GT Class, the factory backed U.S based Racer's Group Porsche driven by Lucas Luhr and Timo Bernhard set the fastest time.
Commenting on the Lola chassis performance at the famed Le Mans track, Christopher Tate, Lola's sales and marketing director, said "The MGfactory team shows what can be done with a 675 car - and we expect to see all three cars perform well in the race in June - and then to see more customer teams follow KnightHawk's example and take on the ALMS series in the U.S later in the summer"