Dyson take ALMS honours with new Lola B12/60
Six Lola LMP sports cars completed the gruelling Sebring 12 Hours this weekend, which was the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship race as well as a round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series.
In hot and sunny conditions three LMP1 and three LMP2 Lola cars were all classified as finishers in the official results with Dyson Racing taking a debut win in the ALMS prototype class with the new Lola B12/60 LMP1 coupe. Chris Dyson took the chequered flag in 8th position overall after he and his British team mates Guy Smith and Steven Kane enjoyed a faultless race with their Mazda-powered Lola.
Chris Dyson started and finished the notoriously tough endurance race and was highly delighted to come away with maximum points as he and the Dyson racing team aim to defend the ALMS title. "It was a supreme effort by the Dyson Racing team and I am very proud of them. To come here with a completely new car and finish where we did is exceptional. Full respect to Lola and their team here, they did an awesome job and now we can concentrate on extracting the massive potential in the Dyson Lola-Mazda LMP1 coupe."
Rebellion Racing finished the Sebring 12 Hours in 7th and 8th positions in the FIA WEC LMP1 classification. The Anglo/Swiss team were in line for a podium position with just 90mins remaining but a problem stranded the car on the circuit. The team, however, eventually got the Lola-Toyota back on track and ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld took the chequered flag. The #13 Lola-Toyota of Belicchi, Primat and Bleekemolen completed a strong comeback drive after an early problem with the pneumatic gearbox 'blipper' saw them lose almost an hour. However, all three drivers never gave up and were rewarded with the fastest petrol powered race lap, setting a best of 1m49.477s.
In LMP2, the Lotus-branded Lola B12/80 LMP2 coupe enjoyed a solid and trouble-free LMP debut with Thomas Holzer, Mirco Schultis and Luca Moro placing 6th in the FIA WEC LMP2 results. The German-based team opened their points account and were delighted with the way their Lola chassis performed on its track debut. The team plan to enter their second Lola B12/80 LMP2 coupe in the very near future.
Another podium position was enjoyed by a Lola customer at the weekend when the Black Swan Racing team took runners-up position in the American Le Mans standings. The team were a late entry to the Sebring 12 Hours after graduating to the LMP2 division from GT-Am. The distinctive green and silver Lola, formerly run by Level 5, survived a puncture and spin to ensure that team owner/driver Tim Pappas and his team mates Jon Fogarty and Bret Curtis had a memorable LMP2 debut.
The Gulf Racing Middle East team overcame a night practice accident on Thursday to finish their first LMP2 event in 7th place. Racing legend Stefan Johansson brought the Nissan-powered Lola B12/80 across the finishing line to overcome the prior adversity and reward the team for their efforts in preparing the Lola for the race. Fabien Giroix and Maxime Jousse survived off-track moments and a variety of timed penalties to give the United Arab Emirates entered team a solid platform for the 2012 season.
Lola will continue its busy sports car season in two weeks time when the Status GP team will race their brand-new LMP2 coupe at the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at the Paul Ricard HTTT track in the south of France. The next race on the ALMS schedule is at Long Beach on 14th April while the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is at Spa on May 12.