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  Lola T600 Chevrolet
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1981 - 1983
Numbers built:12 (All engines)
Internal name:T600
Designed by:Eric Broadley for Lola
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 30, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLola was the first manufacturer to develop a car for the new IMSA GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) class that came into effect at the start of the 1981 season. The main driving force behind the project was Brian Redman, who had recently retired from racing to become one of Lola's representatives in the United States. After reading a draft of the new regulations, he convinced Lola's Eric Broadley to design and build what would be the company's first sports prototype in some years and the first closed racer since the legendary T70.

The IMSA GTP regulations allowed for a wide variety of engine types by determining the minimum weight of the car based on the size and potential performance of the engine used. The FIA would adopt a very similar set of regulations for the equally popular Group C class a year later, with the addition of a fuel limit per race. Another key ingredient was the acceptance of underbody venturis to create downforce through 'ground effect'. Originally pioneered by Lotus' Colin Chapman, Lola's first ground effect machine had been the company's 1980 F5000 racer, the T510. This provided valuable lessons that could be used during the development of the new T600.

One of the things all manufacturers experimenting with ground effect quickly discovered was that the additional downforce put considerable more stress on the chassis. Accordingly, Broadley laid down Lola's first ever aluminium monocoque with honeycomb reinforcements. Leaving nothing to chance, Broadley called in the services of French aerodynamicist, Dr Max Sardou. He had actually discovered the benefits of underbody aerodynamics before Chapman but he failed to convince Renault to use it for the manufacturer's first Formula 1 car. High in demand, Sardou only briefly offered his services to Lola, joining rival March soon after.

With the help of Sardou, Broadley penned a very low body with long front and rear overhangs. One of Sardou's suggestions was the cover the rear wheels. The two venturis started at the cockpit and, although not quite as efficient as on the Formula 1 cars due to the lack of skirts, they generated an abundance of downforce. That was exactly what the doctor ordered on the tight and twisty tracks used in the United States. The new T600's suspension was conventional in configuration, with double wishbones all-round. At the rear the optimisation of the venturis called for the springs and dampers to be pushed as close to the wheels as possible.

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  Article Image gallery (21) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (2)