Lola Press Release

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18th March 2002

First International victory for MG Lola at Sebring

Intersport at SebringThe MG Lola EX257 scored its first international victory at arguably the toughest race in the American Le Mans Series when Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Michael Durand won the 675 LMP Class in the Sebring 12 hours in Florida at the weekend.

The Lola lost time early on to cure a misfire and dropped to 45th position overall, but a spectacular recovery was staged to seventh overall at the flag and the LMP675 class win in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat caused the track to disintegrate at turn five, causing a pace car period while a quick fix was sought to finish the race.

Dayton, driving for the Intersport Lola team, crossed the line seventh overall, and just 45 seconds from the sixth-place Ascari A410 of Formula 3000 champion Justin Wilson who was making his international sportscar debut. "We had a problem with the mapping on the engine, and had to sort that out," said team owner Jon Field. "The car was delivered here to Sebring on Sunday, on Tuesday we lost an engine and we as drivers had to learn the car. The engine was misfiring so we stopped to have it seen to and after that the car was awesome. It has great potential."

Dayton added: "The motor got stronger as the race went on, as the temperature cooled, it was untouchable, so thanks to MG, the car was awesome!" The MG Lola's American Le Mans Series debut started in spectacular fashion in qualifying when factory driver Jonny Kane, driving the privately-entered KnightHawk Racing Lola, qualified the car third overall behind the two factory Audis.

"I got a really good start and I was sitting right up behind the two works Audis," said Kane. "I am not sure what happened between them but they slowed each other up and Andy Wallace played a blinder up the inside, caught me napping really. "Andy has been doing this for years so I thought I would follow him for a bit and learn. If I had wanted to go for glory I could have passed all three Audis. The engine is fantastic and I think that we can put up a good show at Le Mans."

The Intersport team's Lola B2K/10 of Mark Neuhaus, John Malcuso and Butch Brickell retired when Brickell was hit from behind by a Porsche after a pit stop, causing the American to hit the wall and cause sufficient damage to force retirement. 

The race was won overall by Rinaldo Capello, Christian Pescatori and Johnny Herbert by a lap from Wallace, Stefan Johansson and Jan Lammers, the Dutchman who entertained the crowd when he spun at the final corner of the race and dropped a lap behind the winner.

The second Audi, of Frank Biela, Tom Kristesen and Emanuele Pirro, lost more than half an hour when the Audi required a steering rack change that dropped the car to ninth overall. The trio recovered to fifth at the flag.

12 Hours of Sebring, result (pos, drivers, car, gap)
1, Christian Pescatori/Rinaldo Capello/Johnny Herbert, works Audi R8
2, Andy Wallace/Jan Lammers/Stefan Johansson, Champion Audi R8, -1 lap
3, Guy Smith/Marc Goossens/Jim Matthews, Riley & Scott MkIIIC, -9 laps
4, James Weaver/Butch Leitzinger/E Forbes-Robinson, Dyson Riley & Scott, -16 laps
5, Tom Kristensen /Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro, works Audi R8, -19 laps
6, Ben Collins/Christian Vann/Justin Wilson, Ascari, -23 laps
7, Michael Durand/Jon Field/Duncan Dayton, Intersport Lola EX257, -23laps
8, Bryan Herta/David Donohue/Bill Auberlen, works Panoz LMP01, -27 laps
9, Johnny O'Connell/Ron Fellows/Oliver Gavin, works Chevrolet Corvette, -29 laps
10, Franz Konrad/Toni Seiler/Terry Borcheller, Konrad Saleen S7R, -37 laps 

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