Legendary Sebring tests KnightHawk's MG Lola effort. March 18, 2002, Road Atlanta, GA - KnightHawk Racing's ...
Legendary Sebring tests KnightHawk's MG Lola effort.
March 18, 2002, Road Atlanta, GA - KnightHawk Racing's #11 DNTLworks MG Lola 675 LMP, which began Saturday's 50th Anniversary Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, presented by Dodge, 1st in class and 3rd overall crossed the finish line a grueling twelve hours later 4th in class and 28th overall.
The endurance classic, which tests both man and machine, did just that with the KnightHawk team's first race test of its new MG Lola. Sebring has a long and storied history of demanding the absolute best of its challengers and will punish them every inch of the way as they try to pass one of sportscar's ultimate tests -- the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The team's effort, which began with testing on Monday of race week, was first tested with the need to replace an engine. The team rose to the challenge and on the second day of testing, Tuesday, were right back turning class-leading times. These excellent times continued throughout Wednesday as well. KnightHawk passed the first test.
In qualifying on Thursday, what many thought might never happen, and as many hoped would happen, KnightHawk driver Jonny Kane placed the car first in class -- and an amazing third overall. KnightHawk passed the second test.
As the green flag dropped the 50Th running of the legendary race began -- the final exam. The KnightHawk MG Lola immediately continued to dominate the class -- and maintain top-ten overall position -- through the first three hours and the first round of driver stints -- with Jonny Kane first, Steve Knight second and Andy Lally third. A run-in with a GTS class Dodge Viper caused some right rear damage that served as a catalyst for multiple trips to the pits for a series of teething problems. All in all, the car spent close to three hours off-track. The ever-punishing Sebring relentlessly tested the KnightHawk car and crew -- and it appeared at times that Sebring would win. The KnightHawk effort didn't stop; the drivers did not give up, the crew repeatedly succeeded at overcoming every obstacle thrown in its path. KnightHawk finished the race fifth in class and 28th overall -- but they did finish -- KnightHawk passed the final.
This was the first race test of both the new MG Lola 675 LMP and the 2002 KnightHawk team. Both passed with high marks. There is no doubt as to the stunning potential of the new MG Lola -- 3rd overall qualifying, fastest lap of the race, a new class track record and the continuous turning of near-qualifying times during the race -- even with the multiple difficulties. The team, many of whom just came off the loss of a driver and fellow teammate at Miami, simply would not, did not, give up.
The team's driver line-up for the race; team co-owner and driver Steve Knight, Ireland's Jonny Kane and 2001 Rolex SRP II Champion Andy Lally did everything required by those that challenge the mighty Sebring -- and more.
The car's potential is dramatically obvious. The crew is second-to-none. The team looks forward to its next ALMS event -- California's Sears Point.
Co-Owner/Driver Steve Knight
"Boy, this race was a real challenge. We had some mechanical problems that just kept us in-and-out and in-and-out of the pits all during the race. But the car shows outstanding potential and is simply an amazing car. You can see that in the way that Jonny qualified the car third overall. My teammates Jonny and Andy drove superbly under very trying conditions. The team did an amazing job of keeping on top of the teething problems. We could have been happier with our end result, but overall I feel that it was a great race weekend and I look forward to our next event."
Co-Owner Mel Hawkins
"Given the fact that we just recently secured the MG Lola, and had only one day of testing at Road Atlanta prior to this race, I'm extremely pleased with our performance. Sebring is one of the most punishing courses in the world and the most demanding on car, driver and crew. We experienced some problems that in total kept us in the pits for approximately three hours -- but still, no one gave up - not the drivers, the crew or the car."
Team Manager Mike Johnson
"We had a really good showing at Sebring -- a great test session, great practices and a really great qualifying run. Everything was in-sync. The first three hours of the race was going off like clockwork. We were maintaining first in class and really good overall position though the first round of driver stints. Then a run in with a Viper caused some damage to the right rear of the MG Lola that seemed to be the first of what would be many repairs throughout the race. But even between repairs, when the car was on the track, it was consistently turning near qualifying times -- and even set a new class track record as well as a fastest lap. My hats off to the drivers -- Steve, Jonny and Andy, and to the entire crew. These are a tough group of guys that just came together beautifully under very tough racing conditions. The MG Lola is an amazing car. As a team, we can't wait for the next race."
Driver Andy Lally
"I'd like to thank KnightHawk for the opportunity to race with them at Sebring. It was a dream come true for me -- the MG Lola is definitely one of the most incredible cars I've ever driven. The pace of the car was super strong and we were able to keep the class lead for the first hours. I think the car made a great impression with IMSA and all the fans -- as well as with the LMP 900 teams. I would jump at the chance to run with KnightHawk and the MG Lola again!"