Lola Cars International recorded a memorable victory in the fourth round of the CART FedEX Championship Series at Motegi, Japan, today, with Newman/Haas Racing's Michael Andretti. The 1991 Champion notched up his 39th career win - and Lola's 91st...
Lola Cars International recorded a memorable victory in the fourth round of the CART FedEX Championship Series at Motegi, Japan, today, with Newman/Haas Racing's Michael Andretti. The 1991 Champion notched up his 39th career win - and Lola's 91st - in style after starting from eighth in a race that was postponed from yesterday (May 13) because of torrential rain that hit the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
The win was the leading British race car manufacturer's first this year and Andretti's 27th in a Lola. It takes him to joint third in the all-time Race Winner category, tied with Al Unser Sr. The American was also the last driver to take victory in a Lola, winning at Vancouver, Canada, in September 1996.
Andretti benefited from the misfortune of fellow Lola driver Juan Montoya, the Target Chip Ganassi team ace who started from pole position, his second number one grid placing this year. Montoya used his pole advantage to the full and dominated most of the race in his Toyota-engined Lola, building up a gap of more than ten seconds at times.
The Colombian was in front for 172 laps of the Firestone Firehawk 500 Race but, as he went in for his scheduled final pit-stop in the 201-lap race, he suffered a minor boost problem which saw him drop back down the field to seventh. Andretti, who had steadily moved through the field, took advantage of the situation to grab the lead for the final 26 laps and take the chequered flag in his Ford-powered Lola.
He said: "This is the first win for Lola this season and also the first in a long time in Champ Cars. I'm glad we could bring them back into winner's circle."
Meanwhile, in Britain, Lola's radical new B2K/10 sportscar qualified on pole position for the third round of the American Le Mans series at Silverstone yesterday, ahead of a strong manufacturer entry. The Olive Garden-backed Team Rafanelli car, driven by Italian Mimmo Schiattarella and Belgian Didier de Radigues, immediately set the pace in the 500km early evening race and pulled out a lead on the British Grand Prix circuit.
The car dropped out of the lead however, when a slight technical hitch caused it to take an early pit-stop. Once back on the track, the Lola was the quickest SR1 category car with Schiattarella claiming the fastest lap of the race on lap 67 with a time of 1m39.748s. The Lola eventually finished 11th in the 98-lap endurance event.