LOLA SPORTSCARS GET READY FOR SEBRING 12 HOURS Lola sportscars will be in the thick of the action in this year's 56th running of the classic Sebring 12 Hours endurance race this weekend. Kick starting Lola's 50th year as a motorsport...
LOLA SPORTSCARS GET READY FOR SEBRING 12 HOURS
Lola sportscars will be in the thick of the action in this year's 56th running of the classic Sebring 12 Hours endurance race this weekend. Kick starting Lola's 50th year as a motorsport constructor both, BK Motorsport and Intersport Racing will be battling it out against Audi, Peugeot, Acura and Porsche in the first big sportscar race of the 2008 season.
Intersport Racing themselves head in to their 10th season of running Lola designed and built sportscars. They have run every example of Huntingdon built sportscars since 1999 when Jon Field and Martin Guimont debuted the Lola B98/10 Ford. Since then the Dublin, Ohio based squad have entered the B2K/10, B2K/40, B01/60 Lola-MG, B05/40 LMP2 and this year the B06/10 Lola chassis in LMP1. The team have tasted success in Florida many times in the past with a total of four class podium finishes and two class wins. These victories were achieved in 2002 for Jon Field, Michael Durand and Duncan Dayton with the Lola B01/60 LMP675 car and in 2006 when the Field's were joined by Liz Halliday in the LMP2 Lola B05/40.
This year, Jon and his son Clint Field will be joined by Richard Berry in the AER powered Lola LMP1. The car will also run with the new cellulosic E85 race fuel, making it one of the most environmentally friendly Lola cars ever to have raced at Sebring. BK Motorsports arrive at Sebring with renewed optimism after several encouraging pre season tests with their Mazda powered Lola B07/46. Ben Devlin showed an impressive turn of speed at the official Sebring test in January and the team are all set to take the improvements into this week's practice and qualifying sessions. Over the winter the team has seen many changes to its LMP2 Lola-Mazda challenger.
While the drivers remain the same, the tyres have changed from Kumho to Yokohama and the look of the car is markedly different with support from BP ensuring a new striking livery for the team. "The team tested over the winter and we're very encouraged by the gains," said Ben Devlin. "We have a great car and an awesome powerplant in the MZR-R. Going the full 12 hours will be key. That in itself is a feat at Sebring and we really want to welcome our new friends at BP and Castrol with a good outing."
Devlin will be joined in the cockpit by reigning Star Mazda champion, Gerardo Bonilla, who is relishing the prospect of racing the Lola-Mazda LMP2 car. "The BP Lola B07/46-Mazda MZR-R LMP2 car is just incredible," said the Puerto Rican born racer. "I'm quite confident we will have a successful outing."
Lola at Sebring 2008 will be the 28th time that Lola has been represented in the Sebring 12 Hours. The first visit was in 1960 when Frenchman Charles Voegele brought his Climax-engined Lola Mk1 to Florida, winning the Sports 1150 class with well known British racer Peter Ashdown. During the 1960's the iconic Lola T70 roared around the Floridan airfield with the James Garner entered Mk3 Chevrolet of Lothar Motschenbacher and Ed Leslie taking a superb 2nd in class and 6th overall in 1969.
The seventies saw the three-litre cars compete with the T210 and T212 making appearances before the monstrous T600 shook the track in the early eighties with drivers like David Hobbs and Josele Garza competing. The T810 Corvette car was designed by Lola and raced in 1988 when sportscar legends Sarel Van Der Merwe and Elliot Forbes Robinson qualified a brilliant 6th. However, the Rick Hendrick entered GTP car failed to make the chequered flag.
Dyson Racing took many top placings for Lola during the present decade, including an LMP675 class victory in 2003 with Didier De Radigues, Chad Block and Chris Dyson. Mircale Motorsports ensured another Lola win in the inaugural LMP2 class the following year with the B2K/40. With victories for Intersport in 02 and 06, it meant that Lola chassis had scored four of the last six LMP675/LMP2 wins.
Executive Chairman of Lola, and former Lola racer himself, Martin Birrane said of this weekend's race: "We have a great history of competing in this great race -- the Sebring 12 Hours. This is an important year for Lola as it celebrates 50 years of making wonderful racing cars. I wish our teams and drivers the very best of luck this weekend as they do battle along with some very stiff competition. All in all it is a terrific way for the 2008 racing season to start and I am sure that Lola cars will once again be in the hunt for some great results."
For its golden anniversary in 2008 Lola has recently unveiled two new sportscar products, the B08/60 LMP1 Coupe and the B08/80 LMP2 coupe.