A new era for Lola begins in Formula E… Does WEC now beckon?

Lola’s return to the forefront of global motor sport is proof that you can’t keep a much-admired racing marque down for too long


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Lola Cars will make its return to frontline motor sport next year in Formula E, following confirmation of its powertrain alliance with Yamaha and the German Abt team – and it promises to be just the start for the revived racing specialist.

That’s the message from new owner Till Bechtolsheimer and Lola motor sport director Mark Preston, as the company spools up for its first international racing project since 2012.

The technical partnership with Yamaha also marks the Japanese manufacturer’s return to four-wheeled competition for the first time since it powered Arrows in Formula 1 back in 1997. Abt is one of the most established teams in electric-powered Formula E, winning the driver’s title in alliance with Audi and Lucas di Grassi in 2017 and the teams’ crown a year later. Its current campaign with Cupra and a Mahindra-built powertrain is in its second season, but has proven less successful.

Formula E is the “obvious choice and best starting point” for Lola, according to Preston, who previously ran the Techeetah team that won three consecutive titles in the series with Jean-Éric Vergne and António Félix da Costa between 2018-20. “When Till bought Lola [in 2022] he was thinking, how can we differentiate from our traditional competitors such as Dallara and Multimatic? When Lola was last in business it was more a time of chassis and aerodynamics. The world has changed since then and the best way to differentiate yourself now in automotive terms is in powertrains and software. Therefore let’s look at electrification, hydrogen and sustainable fuels and materials. Formula E is at the top of electrification given the high-efficiency powertrains that are required.”

The MG EX257 was built by Lola for Le Mans – seen here in 2002, where it lasted more than 200 laps. The marque could return to endurance racing

The MG EX257 was built by Lola for Le Mans – seen here in 2002, where it lasted more than 200 laps. The marque could return to endurance racing

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Businessman and amateur racing driver Bechtolsheimer has previously expressed an interest in taking Lola back to endurance racing. “This powertrain is a great starting point to mesh in with a WEC-type programme,” Preston told Motor Sport. “Moving across to endurance with a large amount of electrification would be a perfect next step. Till is very interested in hydrogen too.”

Preston said the Yamaha partnership has been in gestation for 18 months. Dyno testing of the new powertrain is already under way, with a car shakedown planned for June. “Funnily enough the first F1 car I was involved in was the 1997 Arrows,” said the Australian, who cut his teeth with TWR and later ran the Super Aguri F1 team. “Yamaha is interested in electrification, just like any OEM, and has a big plan for net zero [emissions targets].”

Yamaha will use what it learns to feed technology into its motorcycle, hybrid cycling and marine businesses, added Preston. “They want to know what is the absolute cutting edge. Making something at a reduced price for the mass market is way easier when you know what’s ultimately possible.”