The new factory-backed Aston Martin-powered Lola coupé looks set to bury the memories of the last time the two companies teamed up at Le Mans.
A pair of Lola-Aston T70 MkIIIs hit engine problems and completed just 28 laps between them in the 1968 Le Mans 24 Hours. Forty years on, the Lola-Aston B08/60 was easily the fastest of the petrol-powered LMP1 prototypes on its race debut. The car, run by Prodrive under the Charouz Racing System banner, came third at the Barcelona Le Mans Series opener in April.
The Lola-Aston qualified fourth, within half a second of the fastest Audi turbo-diesel, in the hands of German Stefan Mucke. The former DTM driver and team-mate Jan Charouz kept the second-placed Audi R10 within sight for two-thirds of the six-hour race.
George Howard-Chappell, who masterminds Aston’s racing programmes at Prodrive, described third place as “a fantastic result”.
“We hadn’t run three hours continuously before the race, so we are pleased to get to the finish,” he said. “We had one minor issue: we had to add some gearbox oil.”
The Lola-Aston takes advantage of new rules that give production-based engines a power break in LMP1. Prodrive has taken the 6-litre V12 from its GT1 DBR9, which rivals claim could have upwards of 50hp more than the best bespoke petrol race engine.
Tomas Enge, a stalwart of Prodrive’s GT1 campaigns, will join Mucke and Charouz at the 24 Hours on June 14/15.