2008 Lola B08/80 news, pictures, and information
Lola B08/80Finding one's niche makes all the difference in the world. Whether searching for a career or offering a product, finding out what one is good at will make the difference between failure and success.
In the case of Lola, finding their niche saved the company. Despite over fifty years of experience, the company nearly lost it all when it entered the ever-changing, and incredibly expensive, world of Formula One. The mindset of Lola was in sharp contrast to the mindset required to be victorious in Formula One. Saved from utter failure and ruin, the company stepped-back and focused on what they were good at.
One of the biggest markets for Lola has come in the form of Le Mans endurance racing. Given the regulations and the wide-range of competitors, Lola has found its niche in the LMP1 and LMP2 categories.
Because Le Mans and Le Mans Series racing are still the only series in which amateur drivers are still allowed to take part, there are many smaller-budgeted teams throughout the world looking to compete. This suits Lola perfectly. By designing, building and providing everything else necessary 'in-house', Lola offers racing teams an affordable means in which to go race, and do so competitively.
Lola launched its first LMP prototype model, the B05/40 in 2005. Each and every year, the company has built upon its experience to provide teams with competitive chassis. The chassis faced stiff competition in the LMP1 category as the customer Lola cars faced purposed-built prototypes like the Audi R8. However, in the LMP2 category, Lola has found immediate success. One of the biggest reasons for its success has been due, in no small part, to its ability to still customize its cars for its particular customer's needs, especially with the ability to house any number of engine possibilities under its car's bodywork.
In its pursuit to provide customers with the most competitive chassis possible, Lola launched their new Lola B08/80 in 2008. Debuted in tandem with the larger and heavier Lola B08/60 for the LMP1 class, the B08/80 promises to offer the company greater chances of success. While the B08/60, which was a customer-based design, would have to face the might of the purpose-built Audi and Peugeot with their diesel-powered cars, the B08/80 was believed to help Lola set the pace in LMP2. Benefiting from the same design as that used on the B08/60, the shorter and lighter version was intended to be able to take the fight to the Porsche Spyders which had been dominate throughout 2006 and 2007.
Starting from features of previous chassis that worked, Lola set to work building an even better LMP2 competitor. What resulted when they were done was a car that would offer teams wholly new possibilities.
Lola took what worked from its latest LMP chassis, the B07, which included aspects like the car's nose design, and combined that with research using Computational Fluid Dynamics software and testing in the windtunnel to create its latest generation prototype challenger.
Each of the B08/80's front wheel fairings feature the upward sweeping design just like on the B07. It features the fairing pulling in at the bottom of each side to form a 'V' shape. This allows greater flow of air between the front wheel fairings and the nose bulkhead bodywork. By pulling in the bodywork of the fairing from the outside a flared design is created by the bodywork to cover the outside edge of the wheels as fitting with the regulations. What this design also allows; however, is space. This space enables teams to use varying numbers and sizes of small wing elements to help control the downforce and stability of the car, especially at the front.
The headlight arrangement with the leading edge of the front wheel fairing remains untouched. Though teams may opt to run varying headlight combinations, the headlights were designed to sit horizontally in the very narrow fairing leading edge instead of vertically.
As per the regulations, the leading edge of the front diffuser/splitter, features the step-up in its design. This move reduces overall downforce at the front of the car as it allows more volume of air. Being squeezed between the diffuser and the ground, the air speeds up creating a lower pressure, which creates lift in the opposite direction, downward.
Though a design element on the Lola for a couple of years, the raised-nose on the B07 followed the lead of the Porsche Spyder and was changed. The B08 utilizes the same design. Though the very front edge of the nose remains raised like the B07, the B08's nose bulkhead also has grown vertically. This creates a deeper channel for airflow between the front wheel fairings and the nose. But it also helps in other ways. On the B07, the top of the bodywork's design line featured a number of bulges and bumps to cover suspension members and other components. However, the top design line of the B08 is more-rounded, but smooth. Every aspect of the suspension, and other components, remains hidden under the bodywork.
One of the important design aspects that had to be considered, and was designed into the B08/80, was the ability to be flexible concerning suspension arrangements and geometries. As a result, the B08/80 was designed with a number of attachment points for suspension, which allows teams to choose their own suspension types and arrangements, while not having to build a whole-new car around those decisions.
One more important element somewhat masked in the raised nose of the B08/80 were the inlets for the cooling of the massive carbon brakes. The ram air would enter the individual openings hidden in the nose and travel to each brake housing to help cool the brakes.
The top of the front wheel fairing is another area of vital importance to any prototype endurance car. Multiple styles of panels can be attached to the top of the front wheel fairings to help with overall grip levels at the front of the car. Should the track be a low-downforce, or fast, track a smooth panel may be attached to the top. This reduces drag and helps increase top-end speed. However, a panel with a number of tall louvers may also be attached to the top. These louvers help to create a suctioning effect of the air built-up around the front tires. As the air passes over the louvers and sucks the air within the wheel-well out, it pushes the car down to the track increasing downforce.
Much of the Lola B08/80's performance is the result of what the air is doing underneath the car. As it enters the front it gets squeezed by the contoured front diffuer/splitter. This creates a vast amount of the downforce at the front of the car. The splitter then stops and the air can head back toward the radiator sidepods, and also out the side of the car.
Just aft of the front wheel fairings comes the biggest difference between the Lola B08/80 and any of Lola's previous prototype designs. The Lola designer Julian Sole created a coupe design for the B08/80. This meant Lola offered the first closed-cockpit design in the LMP2 category, which offered customers more options to choose from.
Quite tight, the closed-cockpit design amazingly conforms to the ACO regulations concerning the car being a two-seater. While perhaps appearing to be absolutely impossible to pull-off, the template for the two-seater did manage to fit inside the cockpit. Access to the cockpit comes in the form of a recessed portion of the coupe's roof that allows a hand to reach in and pull open the door. The door hinges forward and upward slightly.
Inside the tight cockpit, Lola has provided its customers many choices once again. Able to be done 'in-house', Lola has the capability to run a number of different electronics packages throughout the chassis and in the cockpit. The cockpit utilizes the ACO-mandated air-conditioning system and features adjustable pedals and steering column for any type of driver. Drawing from its military contracts, Lola integrated the wiring loops and redundancy systems right into the monocoque structure for reliability, access and ultimate crash protection.
Teams can incorporate a number of systems with the chassis as well. A number of pneumatic or solenoid automated steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifting systems can be used and are easily adaptable to Lola's own HT gearbox. Lola designed the car, and is itself, more than capable of integrating practically any data system, telemetry or cockpit display a team would desire into the car. One important, not often thought about feature the Lola B08/80 included was the addition of electrically operated moveable rear-view mirrors. The cockpit itself was created as part of a single carbon monocoque survival cell.
View out of the closed-cockpit is very restricted due to the carbon-monocoque structure of the cockpit. Even vision out the side of the car is hindered because of the design of the closed-cockpit.
Following in similar fashion to its B07, the B08/80 featured squared-off front wheel fairing extensions. Designed in conjunction with the radiator sidepods, the extended bodywork helps to blend the air flowing toward the sidepod to flow around it and over the top of the car. By reducing the airflow colliding with other airflow, disturbances are reduced, which reduces instability and drag.
The sidepods; themselves, are tall vertically and run right up to the bottom-edge of the door, but are pulled in drastically from the side. This allows any unneeded air to pass around the side of the car and blend into the air passing by the car.
The line of the sidepod gently sweeps downward as it travels aft. It then integrates with the leading edge of the rear wheel fairing. Incorporated into the leading edge of the rear wheel fairing can be either simple slot openings, or, scoops to collect air to help cool the carbon rear brakes. The sides of the sidepod bodywork have been designed to feature a couple of different design options. Large shutters can be incorporated to use airflow passing along the side of the car to pull the heat built up in the radiator out the side of the car, or, an actual slot design can be used to do the same function. One design pulls the hotter air out the side of the car, while the other pulls it inward and out the back of the car.
Since the B08/80 had been designed as a customer car, a number of engine arrangements and types are easily housed underneath the car's rear bodywork. In the case of a turbocharged engine used by a team, a larger, single air-scoop will protrude out of the top of the left sidepod. Should a normally-aspirated engine be the choice of a team, the air-restrictor is positioned in streamlined bodywork that runs along the top of the cockpit. In addition to the turbocharger air-scoop protruding out of the top of the bodywork, the exhausts also protrude out of the top of the rear deck of the bodywork. Dependent upon the type of engine used, one or two exhausts will protrude out of the top of the bodywork shrouded by a contoured housing to help reduce airflow disruption in the area.
The trailing edge of the rear bodywork has been designed to allow for another small aid in adding downforce to the rear of the car. A small vertical flap can either be added or taken away from the trailing edge depending upon the needed downforce levels for a particular track.
Besides the trailing edge of the rear bodywork between the rear wheel fairings, the rear wheel fairings themselves were designed with neat little wing elements designed into them to use the air flowing over the fairing to help generate just a little more downforce before it leaves out the back of the car. And, as with the front wheel fairings, different types of panels can be attached to the top of the fairing to help with downforce at the rear of the car.
Talking about downforce, and the rear of the car, perhaps one of the most important elements for a fast prototype racer would be the rear wing. In the case of the B08/80, Lola designed a straight-forward rear wing. Supported by twin-pillars, the B08/08 uses a conventional wing, void of contours and many other design elements one may be used to from looking at a Formula One rear wing. However, the design utilizes a twin-plane design and endplates that serve another purpose.
The endplates aren't merely used anymore to help attach the rear wing plane elements and hold them firm. Designers, like that at Lola, have been using the endplates to help with stability at the rear of the car. Though not as much a focus on the Lola B08 as on other car designs, the endplates help to direct the flow of air as it passes out the back of the car. Instead of the air tumbling off out the sides of the car and causing some instability, the endplates help control the flow and help maintain some stability at the back of the car.
Given its adaptability and aerodynamic competitiveness, Lola's B08/80 provides its customers with a highly flexible car and cutting-edge aerodynamics. The Lola B80/80 is an efficient design and a championship-caliber car as well.
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Wikipedia contributors, 'Lola B08/80', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 November 2010, 03:20 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lola_B08/80&oldid=397235118 accessed 10 March 2011 By Jeremy McMullen
RML-Lola B08/80: 2010 Le Mans SeriesRML has a storied, and yet, still rather recent history. Within the LMP2 category RML has remained a consistent champion and is a threat each and every season.
Ray Mallock's experience in sports car racing reaches all the back into the early 1980s. RML has remained a consistent competitor in GT classes right up into the new millennium. However, in 2004, RML returned to Le Mans prototypes, entering an MG-Lola EX257 in the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans. RML remained to compete in the new LMP2 category and promptly won the class in the 2005 and 2006 24 Hour races. The team would also win the Le Mans Series Championship in 2007.
At the end of the 2008 season RML transitioned to a coupe body style. Then, in 2009, the team turned to Mazda to supply an engine for its Lola challenger. The team utilized the Mazda MZR-R turbocharged engine throughout the season but struggled to finish races. Therefore, heading into the 2010 season, RML knew it had to make some changes in order to be competitive again.
Life before Mazda was quite successful. Therefore, in the off-season, before the 2010 season, RML abandoned the Mazda engine and searched for another competitive package. Within the LMP2 category, RML had to look no further than 3,000 miles away across the Atlantic.
The Acura ARX LMP was carving up the competition in the United States. Much of the success was due to the reliable and powerful Honda engine under the bodywork, which had their beginnings in IndyCar. In 2009, Fernandez Racing won eight races and finished on the podium in each of the ten races it started. That was reliability RML desperately missed in 2009. That was it. The team had already retained the Lola B08/80 chassis to use. The engine offered by Honda seemed to be the missing component the team needed to get back to the top.
RML approached Honda Performance Development (HPD) about purchasing their 3.4-liter V8 engine for use in their chassis. A relationship between RML and HPD was created and led to a good deal of excitement on both ends of the deal. Mike Newton, CEO of AD Group, the team's major sponsor, expressed his excitement concerning the future by saying, 'The team has always been capable of running near the front of the LMP2 class, and given a reliable package we know we can deliver regular podium finishes as well as championship results. The importance of reliability cannot be over-emphasized.'
The addition of the HPD engine meant the team's designers needed to modify the Lola B08/80 chassis slightly. The inlet for the turbocharger along the left side of the chassis was replaced with a much more streamlined air-restrictor inlet running along the top of the closed cockpit. Armed with a reliable engine, improved aerodynamics and featuring a driver line-up of Mike Newton, Thomas Erdos and the vastly experienced Andy Wallace, RML was ready.
At the 8 Hours of Castellet, held at the Paul Ricard Circuit in early April, it was time for RML to put its cards on the table and see what it had. In testing leading up to the start of the season all indications were it was going to be a very positive year. But now, the Lola-HPD combination would be tested in competition.
In qualifying for the event, RML couldn't match the pace of another HPD engine in the Strakka Racing team. RML's number 25 would start 12th overall and 4th in class. During the race, RML's chassis would be able to move up, but just couldn't get past Strakka's HPD ARX and OAK Racing's Pescarolo 01. RML would finish its first race of the 2010 Le Mans Series in 3rd place in the LMP2 class and 9th overall.
RML only had one more race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race preceding the 24 hour event was the 1000km of Spa.
In qualifying, the team would be able to improve slightly. Though still two seconds slower than the fastest LMP2 Strakka, RML's car was able to qualify 12th overall and 2nd in class. The team would be gifted in the morning warm-up before the race with a pole-position when Strakka Racing's entry suffered a crash and had to start the race from the rear of massive grid.
The race was a crazy event. Rain caused many teams and drivers headaches. There were quite a few accidents, even amongst the top LMP1 prototypes. The track even suffered a power-outage that caused the race to be stopped for quite a long period of time.
RML wouldn't allow the distractions to hinder them though. While Strakka suffered and retired from the race, RML drove steadily and was able to earn a 2nd place finish in category and finished 7th overall in the race.
The 2nd place at Spa gave the team a good sense of being prepared heading into the grueling 24 hour race along the public roads outside Le Mans.
Qualifying for the 24 hour race consisted of two days of qualifying whereby the best time of the two days would determine running order. The best RML was able to do was 3rd fastest. The Strakka Racing entry earned the fastest time; six seconds faster than RML's. Overall, RML would start the race from the 20th starting spot.
In 2009, RML struggled with its Mazda-powered Lola and would end up falling out of the race after completing 273 laps. In 2010, with the HPD engine, it would be a totally different story. The failure of all four diesel-powered Peugeots promoted the higher running LMP2 chassis. Among those that profited from Peugeot's loss was RML. Consistently among the top teams in the LMP2 category, RML would go on to finish the 24 hour race 3rd in class behind the Strakka HPD ARX and OAK Racing's Pescarolo-Judd. The team would also finish the race overall within the top-ten. The team finished 8th.
After Le Mans, the Le Mans Series Championship resumed. The series headed back to Algarve for a 1000km race that would start in the early evening on Saturday and end in the very early morning hours on Sunday.
The absence of Audi and Team Peugeot provided ample opportunity for the LMP2 class cars to start up near the front of the grid, and they did. Once again, Strakka Racing had the fastest car in qualifying and started 5th overall. RML had the third fastest time amongst the LMP2 cars and started the race 7th overall.
At the start of the race, all things appeared that Strakka would make it another victory in the LMP2 class and RML would have to worry about trying to at least finish on the podium. This was not to be the case, however. 120 laps into the race, the HPD ARX chassis suffered a failure and Strakka Racing was out of the race. This was the open door RML needed, and they took advantage. By the early morning hours on Sunday RML had claimed its first victory of the season, and first in over two years. Having completed 14 less laps than Team Oreca Matmut, RML finished 4th overall! The LMP2 team almost ended up on the overall race podium! This victory, and Strakka's failure, also helped RML in the championship battle, which only had two more rounds to go.
One of those final two rounds occurred in the later-part of August. It was the 1000km of Hungaroring. This was the first time ever that a Le Mans Series event took place at the Hungaroring. The historic 1000km trial would end up being a truly amazing race with a very unexpected and historic beginning and ending.
The true pace of the Strakka Racing entry was evident during qualifying. Danny Watts took the number 43 car and took the overall pole-position by almost half a second. RML's number 25 was 10th fastest overall, and 5th fastest in class with a lap time four seconds slower than Watts'. Even the mighty diesel-powered Peugeot of Team Oreca Matmut was out-qualified by Strakka Racing.
The prophecy of the race was cast during qualifying. Struggles and failures plagued the LMP1 class. In the end, and for the first time, an LMP2 category car won the race overall. In fact, LMP2 category cars swept the first-six spots. Strakka Racing won the race. RML was part of the history by finishing amongst the top-six with a 4th place finish, four laps behind the Strakka.
Heading into the final Le Mans Series event for 2010, the championship was still rather close. The victory by Strakka Racing at Hungaroring put the pressure back on RML. RML would need to make sure it scored a good result in order to claim the championship.
The 1000km of Silverstone featured a large number of cars on the starting grid. Audi and Peugeot added to the numbers as it was the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. RML started the race 4th in class and 15th overall. Strakka Racing again earned pole in the category and had four other cars between itself and the RML. The pace of the HPD ARX at Silverstone was impressive. The car, with the same engine, was four seconds faster on the 'Arena' course than the RML. However, the main concern for the team was not being fast so much as finishing well. If the team did that, the championship would be theirs.
Strakka Racing did its best to press the issue. Only Quifel ASM Team could stay somewhat in touch with them. As Team Peugeot took the overall victory, Strakka Racing would finish, down only ten laps, in 8th overall. RML kept its head and was able to finish the race 12th overall. More importantly, the team finished 4th within the category. With that, RML took the Le Mans Series Championship. Truly the team had returned to championship form after an abysmal 2009 campaign.
RML had found their missing link. However, the team had to fight really hard to earn its second championship. It found the performance advantage of the Strakka Racing team would make competitive racing truly difficult in the coming years. Recognizing the need to change, it was almost no surprise, given the relationship between RML and HPD, that the team decided it would run an HPD ARX-01d chassis in 2011. This ability to recognize the need to change will not doubt prove RML remains a championship threat and will remain a team to watch within the LMP2 category.
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Wikipedia contributors, 'RML Group', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 January 2011, 19:51 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=RML_Group&oldid=409416207 accessed 27 January 2011By Jeremy McMullen
Racing Box SRL: 2010 Le Mans SeriesAfter making its first appearance in Le Mans Series racing in 2008, Racing Box has become a regular in the LMP2 category. Having fulfilled the dream of Ferdinando Geri to enter Le Mans Series racing, the team looked to 2010 to carry the vision further forward.
In 2009, the team had secured two Judd-powered Lola B08/80s. The team's debut season in 2008 was absolutely terrible for the new team. Often the team would be packing up to leave when others were getting ready to go race. With new Lola chassis, and the venerable Judd powerplant, Racing Box turned things around drastically in 2009.
In what was only the team's third race between 2008 and 2009, Racing Box was able to score victory at the 1000km of Catalunya, which was the first race of the 2009 season. The team would also score a couple of other top-three and top-five results throughout the rest of the season.
Therefore, with the results the team had been able to achieve the year before, 2010 looked to be an opportunity to challenge for the Le Mans Series Championship. Confidence for the team grew heading into the 2010 season as the team received the revised B09 chassis from Lola. Though virtually identical to its previous season, Racing Box's Lola B09 was prepared for competition in the new season with one noticeable change. Headed into 2010 the team decided to switch from Michelin to Pirelli tires for the start of the season.
The team's first race of the season was the first round of the Le Mans Series Championship. The Italian team travelled to Castellet, France in early April for the 8 Hours of Le Castellet, which was held on the 3.61 mile long circuit.
2010 saw a new challenger at the top of the LMP2 category. Strakka Racing had been part of the Le Mans Series in LMP1 in the past, but had switched to LMP2 with the new HPD ARX-01c chassis, which had been developed and raced to great success in the American Le Mans Series. Immediately after qualifying, it was clear the new challenger was going to pose a real threat in the Le Mans Series LMP2 championship.
Danny Watts, in the Strakka Racing HPD, would lap the 3.61 mile circuit in one minute and forty-four seconds. This was just under four seconds slower than the overall pole time set by Team Oreca Matmut's Peugeot 908. This gave the HPD the pole in LMP2 and a 9th starting position overall.
The second fastest qualifier in the LMP2 category was Olivier Pla of Quifel ASM. His time was just over two seconds slower than Watts in the Strakka. OAK Racing would qualify 3rd and would start right beside Quifel ASM in 11th overall. Racing Box, car number 30, would qualify 6th in LMP2 and would start 14th on the grid overall. The second Racing Box entry, car number 29, was 8th fastest and started the race 16th overall.
The team prepared for the 8 hour race. The team's driver lineup was as follows: in car number 29, the drivers were Luca Pirri, Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini. In car number 30, the drivers were Andrea Piccini, Giacomo Piccini and Ferdinando Geri.
The start of the race saw tremendous jostling for position amongst all of the competitors. Despite starting the race 14th overall, the number 30 Racing Box Lola would get pushed out of the way and would lose many places. For a period of about 15 laps, the car ran outside the top-twenty.
In contrast, the number 29 Racing Box Lola would be able to sneak inside a couple of cars and would end the first lap of the race in 14th. Over the course of the next 20+ laps, the number 29 would climb up the order and would run as high as 10th overall.
After 30 laps had been completed, both of the Racing Box entries were running inside the top-fifteen and were looking good to hold on for a good result. After about 50 laps, the number 30 car was running around 12th and 13th and would stay right around those positions for the remainder of the race. Things calmed down and steadied for the number 29 entry as well. The two entries would run either nose-to-tail, or close to it, throughout the length of the race. However, troubles would visit the number 29 before the end of the race.
Upon reaching its 116th lap, the number 29 machine was struck by problems and was forced to retire from the race. This left the team down to just one car. Despite being the sole remaining Racing Box entry, the number 30, driven by the Piccinis and Geri would finish the race with a good result, but no where near as impressive as its first race the previous year.
Racing Box number 30 would complete 246 laps. The 3.4-liter Judd V8 carried the team to a 13th overall finish and 7th place finish in class. Strakka Racing took the win for LMP2 followed by OAK Racing and RML.
After the 8 Hours of Le Castellet there was only one more race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This meant the 1000km of Spa, which was the next round in 2010, would be the last opportunity teams would have to prepare their cars, at speed, for the famed 24 hour race.
Any necessary changes to help a team's chances at Le Mans needed to be made in time in order to be confidently prepared. Racing Box would make a change of its own headed into the 1000km race around the 4.33 mile road course. Despite having a new technical relationship with Pirelli, the team decided to switch to Dunlop tires before the race.
Unlike Le Castellet, the field at Spa; since it was the final warm-up before Le Mans, include the mighty diesels of Team Peugeot, as well as Audi. This made for a truly competitive field, whereby a good starting position on the grid could be difficult to come by.
Strakka Racing would qualify on the pole in LMP2, and 10th overall, but would not start there. In the morning warm-up, before the start of the race, the team suffered a huge accident. Although the team was able to assemble a whole new car to start the race, they were forced to start from the tail-end of the grid.
RML would qualify 2nd in class and 12th overall, but would start first. OAK Racing would be able to qualify 3rd in LMP2 and would start beside the RML in 13th overall. Filippo Francioni was able to wrestle the number 29 Lola B09 to start 5th in LMP2 and 15th overall. With a time only eight hundredths of a second slower than its stable-mate, car number 30; driven by Giacomo Piccini, would start 6th in class and 16th overall.
The only consistent part of racing at Spa, which is situated in the middle of the Ardennes forest, is the inconsistencies of the weather, especially in early May.
Sure enough, the rain began to fall while the cars began to circulate on the pace laps. This caught a number of competitors out due to slick tires on the wet circuit. A couple of LMP1 cars spun or even had accidents. This all happened even before the race started! However, both of the Racing Box entries had managed to avoid troubles and were set to start the race.
Spa, in the rain, is difficult and treacherous enough. Throw in a race start, with all of the cars close together and vying for better positions, and a recipe for disaster has just been created. When the race started, the rain began falling more heavily around the hill at Eau Rouge. The quick flick to the left, immediately followed by the climb up the hill to the right led to a number of competitors tip-toeing, even running wide and almost striking the tire barriers. The treacherous conditions led to the cars collapsing together under braking heading up the hill. This dangerous scenario would end up ruining car number 29's 1000km race.
Heading up the hill, and followed closely by an OAK Racing Pescarolo, the number 29 broke loose and crashed heavily into the tire barrier on the left-hand side. Just like that, one of Racing Box's entries was out of the race. The troubles with the number 29 caused the number 30 to have to swerve off to the right to avoid hitting its teammate. Car number 30 was barely able to hold on and miss striking the tire barrier on the right-hand side of the course. Because of the big crash right at the top of the hill, the safety car was deployed. This gave a number of drivers, especially the number 30 Racing Box entry, time to calm down and prepare for a 1000km race. The drama, however, wasn't over.
The crash of its stable-mate allowed the number 30 Racing Box entry to come up the order and would run 10th after about 12 laps being completed. As soon as the number 30 had reached 10th overall it suffered problems of its own which dropped it all the way down outside the top-forty.
The sun started to crack through the clouds and dry out the track. This gave the drivers time to settle down and put together a good series of laps. This also enabled the number 30 to begin the long climb back up the field. By the time 30 laps had been completed, the car was back in the top-fifteen. Drama would then roll back in and play a part in the race.
One difficult part to deal with is interruptions. Once a driver and team are in a flow, any interruption can cause severe disruptions. The whole field would end up having to deal with a huge disruption to its flow. A power-outage around the track caused the race to be stopped for a lengthy period of time.
Racing Box's number 30 appeared to only be helped by the disruptions and the drama. No doubt helped by attrition, the Racing Box team would continue to climb up the running order. With what would be only about 50 laps left to be run, the team was sitting just outside the top-ten.
Quifel ASM ran a flawless race and would win in LMP2. They would complete 130 laps and would finish 6th overall. 7th overall was the Lola of RML. They too would complete 130 laps and would take 2nd in LMP2. The OAK Racing Pescarolos would finish one lap down to Quifel ASM in 8th and 9th overall and 3rd and 4th in class. The Racing Box number 30, driven by Andrea Piccini, Giacomo Piccini and Ferdinando Geri finished 10th overall having completed 128 laps. The car ended up finishing two laps behind Quifel ASM and was 5th in class.
After its 5th place finish in class at Spa, Racing Box prepared for the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which took place on the 12th and 13th of June. For the 24 hour enduro Racing Box received a single entry. Since the team needed to rebuild the number 29 after its shunt at Spa, the team decided to enter the car for Le Mans.
The LMP2 field was filled with twelve entries. Due to a full field of LMP1 and LMP2 class cars, qualifying positions would extend all the way down to 30th place on the overall grid. Therefore, top-fifteen spots in qualifying would be difficult to achieve in the LMP2 category.
Strakka Racing would set the 15th fastest time overall and would sit on the pole in the LMP2 category. Its American Le Mans cousin, Highcroft Racing qualified 2nd in LMP2 and 17th overall. RML would qualify 3rd in LMP2 and would start 20th overall. Racing Box number 29 qualified with a lap time fourteen seconds slower than that of Strakka's HPD. Despite being a number of seconds slower, the Racing Box entry qualified 6th in LMP2 and would start 24th overall.
The race got underway with the diesels leading the way at the front and pulling away from the petrol-powered LMP1 entries. The Racing Box entry was embroiled in an early battle with a number of other LMP2 cars. After an early safety car period, the race and the team settled in for what it hoped would be a glorious 24 hour race. However, the 24 hours of Le Mans, for Racing Box, would last less than a quarter distance. After completing 57 laps, the Lola B09 suffered problems and forced the team to have to retire from the race. So while many other LMP2 class competitors would race on through the night and next day, Racing Box was packed up and headed out of Le Mans.
After Le Mans, the next round of the Le Mans Series Championship was the 1000km of Algarve on the 17th of July. Due to the terrible accident at Spa, and the difficult run at Le Mans, Racing Box failed to arrive in Portugal for the 1000km race. Instead, the Racing Box team prepped its cars in order to take part in the 1000km of Hungaroring one month later on the 22nd of August.
The Le Mans Series race was the first time the Hungaroring hosted Le Mans endurance racing. It would end up an historic event in so many other ways.
Heading into the race, the team sported a number of changes. The team had been joined by MIK Racing. Also, the team switched back to using Pirelli tires on its Lola chassis. The team also switched up its driver line-up coming into the race as well. Car 29 was to be driven by Marco Cioci, Piergiuseppe Perazzini and Luca Pirri. The number 30 car featured Ferdinando Geri, Fabio Babini and Federico Leo.
Qualifying would prove that the LMP2 category wouldn't just have the opportunity for a good result, but a potential overall victory. In an absolute surprise, Strakka Racing was able to take the pole for the race over the Rebellion Racing Lolas and the diesel-powered Peugeot of Team Oreca Matmut. While not able to perform to the level of Strakka, Racing Box's cars would still put together decent performances in qualifying. Number 30 would put together the best qualifying effort and would start the race 11th overall and 6th in class. Number 29 would set a lap a second and a half slower than its sister car and would start the race 14th overall and 9th in class.
The race got underway in the evening. Right at the very start, the number 29 Racing Box entry was on the move up through the field. After the first lap, it had moved up into 10th. It would sit between 10th and 12th for the following 60+ laps. In contrast, the number 30 Racing Box Lola began a downward trend right from the very start of the race. By the time the race was 55+ laps the car was struggling to stay inside the top-thirty.
Mistakes and troubles within the LMP1 category pole-vaulted a number of LMP2 cars into the top-ten and higher. Meanwhile, the LMP2 Strakka Racing entry continued to race amongst the top-five. Troubles continued to strike the number 30 Racing Box Lola. Excessive time in the pits would lead to the team dropping down the order and being a number of laps down.
Mistake after mistake allowed Strakka Racing to pull away and take the victory in LMP2 and overall! The troubles also enabled LMP2 teams to create a truly historic finish. First through sixth were occupied by LMP2 class cars at the end of the event. Strakka would win with a lap advantage over Quifel ASM. OAK Racing finished 3rd a further lap down to Strakka. Racing Box's number 29 performed well and finished six laps down to Strakka but in 6th overall. Racing Box had even managed to beat the first LMP1 finisher. Results weren't as good for the number 30 Racing Box entry. They would finish the race, but would end up 25th overall and twenty-seven laps down.
After the surprising, and historic, finish at Hungaroring, Racing Box prepared for the final round of the Le Mans Series Championship. The team would head across the English Channel to Silverstone in England to take part in the 1000km of Silverstone, held on the 12th of September.
By this time Racing Box was well out of the championship running. The team's main goal was to end the season on a positive note and look forward to the upcoming 2011 season.
The 1000km of Silverstone would feature one big change for the teams. The race would mark the first time the Le Mans Series would compete on the new 'Arena' circuit which included a half mile longer track that extended down in the middle of the race course. The 'Arena' circuit replaced the runway that used to exist within the inside of what was a former Royal Air Force base.
While Silverstone marked the final round of the Le Mans Series Championship, it also marked the first round of the brand-new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, of which Racing Box qualified to be part.
In an attempt to make Le Mans racing much more global, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup was organized. Racing Box qualified to be part of the cup, but would only take part in the first round at Silverstone due to the finale of the Le Mans Series.
The field for the race in Silverstone was filled once again due to the presence of both Team Peugeot and Audi. This meant there would be very little chance of a repeat performance like that seen at the Hungaroring. This fact would become apparent during qualifying.
In what was a more normal performance, the top LMP2 cars were fitting to crack into the top-ten in qualifying. Strakka Racing would just do it with a 10th place starting spot on the grid after completing a lap of the new 3.66 mile circuit in one minute and forty-six seconds. The next LMP2 qualifier was Quifel ASM with a time two and a half seconds slower than the Strakka entry. This was good enough for Quifel to start 13th overall. Team Bruichladdich would start 3rd in class and 14th overall. Racing Box's entries, number 30 and 29, started 6th and 7th in class and 16th and 17th overall after recording laps in qualifying that were five and six seconds slower than Watts in the Strakka HPD.
At the very start of the race, Racing Box's cars held close to station. After about five laps in, the number 29 Lola slipped up and dropped down the order, almost out of the top-thirty. Car 30, on the other hand, would hold station early on, and then, would begin to ascend up the order. By the team had completed 70 laps they had cracked into the top-fifteen. By the time the number 29 car had completed 90 laps it too was able to crack into the top-fifteen and was looking to finish strong.
Strakka Racing continued its dominant pace and would take the victory in LMP2. The team would finish 8th overall and would complete 160 laps. Quifel ASM stayed with Strakka throughout and also completed 160 laps by the end. Quifel would finish 9th overall and 2nd in class. OAK Racing was right there as well. Their number 35 car also completed 160 laps and finished 3rd in class and 10th overall.
Racing Box finished up its season with a good result out of its number 30 Lola. Babini, Geri and Leo were able to guide the Lola B09 to a 4th place finish in class and a 13th overall finish. The trio ended the race down seven laps to Strakka. After an up-and-down race, the number 29 Lola would compete 150 laps and would finish 18th overall. The 18th place finish enabled the number 29 Racing Box entry to finish 6th in class.
Racing Box wasn't able to improve upon its results in 2009. 2010 proved to be a difficult season for the team despite its hopes for greater things. It remains to be seen what the team will do in preparation for the 2011 season given the regulations for the coming year. Assuredly, the team will be looking to not merely finish but win again in 2011.
'Racing Box to enter two Lola B08/80s in ‘09', (http://www.planetlemans.com/2008/11/05/racing-box-to-enter-two-lola-b0880s-in-09/). PlanetLeMans: The Latest Sportscar and GT Racing News First. http://www.planetlemans.com/2008/11/05/racing-box-to-enter-two-lola-b0880s-in-09/. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, '2009 Le Mans Series season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 December 2010, 04:32 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2009_Le_Mans_Series_season&oldid=403823588 accessed 14 February 2011
'Race Review', (http://www.lemans-series.com/en/s55_stat_archive_courses/s55p01_classement.php?annee=2010). Le Mans Series. http://www.lemans-series.com/en/s55_stat_archive_courses/s55p01_classement.php?annee=2010. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
'Company', (http://www.racingbox.it/en/). RacingBox.it. http://www.racingbox.it/en/. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
'LMS 2010: Giacomo, Andrea and Ferdinando Geri with Racing Box', (http://www.giacomopiccini.com/en/node/480). Giacomo Piccini.com. http://www.giacomopiccini.com/en/node/480. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, '2010 Le Mans Series season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 February 2011, 00:04 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_Le_Mans_Series_season&oldid=413010065 accessed 14 February 2011By Jeremy McMullen
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