Lola's strong start fires hopes of 2010 title

LOLA sports cars hit the ground running with three podium positions at the Le Mans series season-opener at Paul Ricard in France. Drivers had to battle changing conditions during a tough eight-hour race that ended in wet conditions, with Lola-built runner

LOLA sports cars hit the ground running with three podium positions at the Le Mans series season-opener at Paul Ricard in France.

Drivers had to battle changing conditions during a tough eight-hour race that ended in wet conditions, with Lola-built runners taking second and third in the elite LMP1 class and third place in LMP2.

The podium finishes were especially important as the longer race at Paul Ricard counts for double points. With Lola's competition, Audi and Peugeot, not entered for the full season, a strong showing at the opener bodes well for Lola's title hopes.

LMP1 champions Stefan Mucke, Harold Primat and Adrian Fernandez got their defence off to a solid start for Aston Martin Racing with a second place in the Lola-built coupe. After dealing with an early puncture, they led the race briefly while the eventual winners Audi recovered from contact with another car.


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Fernandez said the performance of the car had given the team encouragement for the season.

"This is a really good car and we're working hard to make it the best we can but there is still a gap to the diesels," he said. "I'm here for three years so hopefully I can see that big trophy one day in Le Mans."

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The Rebellion Racing Lola team of Jean-Christophe Boullion, Guy Smith and Andrea Belicchi took third place after a smooth run to the chequered flag.

A collision with a GT2 entry cost the sister car of Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani. Time lost to repairs meant that the red and gold Lola had to cut through the field, eventually rising to seventh in LMP1.

The ex-AMR Lola Aston Martin of the Signature Plus team took the chequered flag in sixth position with Pierre Ragues, Franck Mailleux and Vanina Ickx showing well in the team's first outing. Despite several long pit stops and a spectacular spin by Ickx, the team were pleased to get points in the first race of the season.

In LMP2, RML scored another podium position with the red, white and blue Lola HPD of Tommy Erdos, Andy Wallace and Mike Newton. The RML led the class at times, but took third overall in a return to form.

The Racing Box entry of brothers Andrea and Giacomo Piccini and team owner Ferdinando Geri cruised to LMP2 sixth place, with the open-cockpit Kruse-Schiller Motorsport of Jean De Pourtales, Hideki Noda and Jonathan Kennard claiming seventh.

The next round of the 2010 Le Mans Series takes place at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on May 8 and 9.

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