1999 Lola B98/10 LMP900 By Ascott Collection

Unveiled in Atlanta in September 1998, the Lola B98/10 marked the return of the Huntingdon constructor to the world of endurance racing. After a long absence since 1992 and the Lola T92/10, the English firm came back into business with a fine-looking, top-performance prototype. In the shadow of the “big” constructors, this Lola had nothing to be ashamed of.

At the end of the 1990s, Lola embarked on an ambitious project: to create an affordable prototype for racing teams, capable of competing in endurance racing at the very highest level anywhere in the world. The result was the B98/10, designed to compete in the American Le Mans Series, the International Sports Racing Series and, of course, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The project was led by Peter Weston, one of the first to join Lola after Martin Birrane acquired the firm.

The design may seem quite similar to other prototypes of the time – the Nissan R391, the Courage C52, the Ferrari 333SP or the Riley & Scott MKIII – all racing at the same time as the B98/10. And in fact, Peter Weston was indeed hired to design a car capable of beating the Ferrari 333SPs and the Riley & Scott MKIIIs (hence the “B” in the name of the new prototypes). The new car was an SR1 which could be modified to compete in both the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in the LMP900 category.

A number of unique features set the little English newcomer apart right from the start – the front of the car, for example, which has such extremely curved wings that the headlights are mounted on the side. The air intakes are situated just beneath the roll-bar as in a single-seater, thereby freeing up a little more space on the front bonnet, designed entirely for speed. The car is built around a carbon fibre monocoque with an FIA and ACO approved crash box, ensuring safety and rigidity for an ultra-modern car. A major wind tunnel testing programme was undertaken to optimize the B98/10’s road-handling performances.

Among the other specific features of this Lola B98/10, we could cite, for example, fast access to the shock absorbers and anti-roll bars without needing to remove the car body. This allows greatly reduced intervention times for making adjustments or changes. The six-speed sequential gearbox using Hewland parts and the cooling system are both extremely efficient. In addition, the geometry of the steering was developed with the finest precision, giving a constant, highly communicative steering force that is reassuring for the driver.

Now let’s talk of speed. Several engines were compatible with this Lola B98/10. This was the case, in particular, of the Roush Ford 6.0-litre V8 engine, which the car’s development was built around. But if the customers so wished, it was also possible to fit a Ford V6 turbo, a Lotus V8, a Chevrolet V8, a BMW 6-cylinder in line or even a Judd V10 engine. It was a car designed for competition customers, that seduced several teams right from the start. It must be said that its very first official run, the day after the first edition of the Petit Le Mans, was impressive. According to on-the-spot witnesses, the Lola B98 / 10, with a Ford engine and James Weaver at the wheel, lapped in 1’12”4, while Allan McNish had placed a Porsche 911 GT1 in pole position in 1’13”7 …

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Report by ascottcollection.com


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