HUNTINGDON race car manufacturers Lola celebrated a spectacular victory in a famous endurance race at Silverstone, on Saturday. What made the win extra-special for the firm was that its owner, Martin Birrane, was in the driver s seat to take the chequered

The famous Lola T70 Mk3B rounds Woodcote corner on its way to victory. 	
Pictures: CHOPS Photographic

HUNTINGDON race car manufacturers Lola celebrated a spectacular victory in a famous endurance race at Silverstone, on Saturday.

What made the win extra-special for the firm was that its owner, Martin Birrane, was in the driver's seat to take the chequered flag.

The iconic Lola T70 Mk3B continuation series car claimed victory in the Denny Hulme Silverstone Endurance Trophy, one of seven T70s in the 90-minute event.

A racer for 40 years, Birrane saved Lola from the brink of closure in 1997 when he bought the company from founder Eric Broadley.

Racing into the dusk in wet conditions at the Northamptonshire circuit, Birrane, in his seventies, shared the driving duties with Scottish racer Ron Cumming.

Cumming also performed wonders in the treacherous conditions to ensure the five-litre blue and yellow car won by almost a minute.

Birrane, Lola Group executive chairman, said: "The conditions were truly dreadful but Ron really showed what the car can do and it became very tricky towards the end of the race when I was in the car.

"To win at such a terrific event as this, with Lola's most famous design, feels absolutely fantastic.

"Especially so when you consider that we were racing against a strong field of 45 cars competing across the weekend."

Meanwhile, Lola took the opportunity to showcase itself at the Silverstone circuit.

The firm celebrates its 50th anniversary next year and the popular Lola stand included the first Lola car and the eye-catching T90.

The MG-Lola raced at Le Mans in 2004 by RML was also on display and Le Mans double-winner Mike Newton was on hand to give his experiences of driving a modern sports car.

"It is quite something at Le Mans, primarily because of the downforce levels," said Newton.

"I must say that Lola have designed great sports cars over the last decade or so. With a top team like RML running the car we have two Le Mans LMP2 titles and several Le Mans Series races under our belts.