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  Lola B08/80 Mazda
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Introduced in:2008
Designed by:Julian Sole for Lola
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 20, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the introduction of two brand new prototype racing cars, English racing car manufacturer kicked off the celebrations of their fiftieth birthday in great style. Originally founded in 1958 by quantity surveyor Eric Broadley, the company was struggling to survive after a very expensive and unsuccessful exploit into Formula 1 in the 1990s. Lola was rescued by enthusiast Martin Birrane, who turned the company in the most successful independent racing car manufacturer both commercially and on the track. The high-tech facility in Huntingdon even caters to the aerospace industry.

Complying with the revised regulations for Le Mans type racing, Lola launched the B05/40 LMP2 car in 2005, followed by the similar B06/10 LMP1 car. With the B05/40 and its derivatives Lola customers have won the LMP2 class at 24 Hours of Le Mans and the championship Le Mans Series for three years running. One of the big reasons of the Lola chassis' success is their adaptability to a wide variety of engines, ranging from the Turbocharged AER and Audi engines to the Naturally Aspirated Judd and Acura engines. Both open cars were succeeded in 2008 by extensively developed coupe bodied counterparts.

Dubbed the B08/80, the new LMP2 car was greatly overshadowed at its launch by the Aston Martin engined B08/60 LMP1 racer. Nevertheless, considering the current state of the LMP1 class, the chances of success are much bigger for the LMP2 car. Both cars follow the familiar pattern of a carbon fibre monocoque with double wishbone suspension all-round. The main difference is a slightly shorter wheelbase and a simpler rear suspension for the B08/80. Although similar to the previous generation Lolas, the aerodynamics package was subject to many hours of testing in the windtunnel and should be considerably more efficient.

The first customer for the B08/80 is the Swiss Speedy Racing, who have teamed with Hugh Hayden's highly experienced Sebah to run the car. They opted for the equally new 'DB' version of the Judd V8 engine, which bridged the gap between the dominant AER and Zytek LMP2 engines. The team raced the car throughout the 2008 Le Mans Series and at Le Mans. The B08/80's pace and reliability impressed friend and foe. The Lola Coupe was often the 'best of the rest' behind the ever dominant Porsches.

In fact the Lola B08/80 was so impressive that two teams upgraded from the open B05/40 before the end of the season. One of them was the American B-K Motorsports, which flies the Mazda flag in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). For the final two races of the 2008 season they entered their newly acquired Lola Coupe to close the gap between them and the dominant Acuras and Porsches in the LMP2 Class. Due to the similarities between the open and closed Lolas, many of the mechanicals of the Mazda engined B05/40 could be carried over, which greatly sped up the process.

The Mazda engined B08/80 debuted during the 1000 mile Petit Le Mans in October. In the timed sessions there still was a gap with the Works supported machinery, but it was considerably smaller. Unfortunately we could not find out how good the car was in race trim as an accident in the warm-up put the team out of the race. The car was repaired in time for the final race of the season at Laguna Seca. Incidents and bad luck again prevented a good result. The off season will no doubt help the small team to get better acquainted with their new coupe in preparation for the 2009 ALMS.

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  Article Image gallery (28) Specifications User Comments (1)