Lola drones on to double defence turnover and attack track times

NOT content with planning to build one of the fastest racing cars in the world, Huntingdon-based Lola Group is also reporting record levels of business for its defence-sector drones.

The company says a combination of international resolutions and public sentiment makes boots on the ground less and less likely.

As the face of conventional warfare changes, reaction time is also more important than ever before. With the advent of global terrorism, targets disappear as quickly as they first present themselves.

“Military forces must be fast and flexible ... and so must their suppliers.”

And Lola, which specialises in unmanned drones made from composite materials it has developed over the years as part of its bid to diversify after over 50 years of making racing cars, has seen a 100 per cent increase in its orders over the past year.

The firm is understandably tight-lipped about the defence contracts on which it is working for the MOD and the Pentagon, but it makes no secret of the manufacture of unmanned aerial vehicles for the military.

Managing director Robin Brundle is quite sure that the company’s racing experience gives Lola a competitive advantage within the defence industry: “The race track is a demanding environment - cutting-edge technology, meticulous specifications and tight timeframes.

Most Read

“We are used to the pressure and know how to deliver on time, every time. As a result, we’ve never been busier.”

Lola has also unveiled the thinking behind its new collaboration with Drayson Racing to produce an all-electric Le Mans Prototype (LMP) racing car.

Battery technology is far from well enough developed to keep an electric vehicle on the track throughout an endurance race such as June’s Le Mans 24-Heures. So the collaboration, which emerged from a conversation between Lola chairman Martin Birrane and Lord (Paul) Drayson, aims at a time-attack car to break the lap records for electric vehicles at tracks around the world, including street, circuit and hill climbs.

The 850hp car is also seen as a technology demonstration platform for the novel technologies being developed by the project consortium, and a demonstration of the speed potential of an electric vehicle – lapping circuits faster than a current LMP1 diesel.