Lola Cars International
And Its B05/40
completion (and despatch to Heathrow) of Bill Binnie’s Lola
B05/40 was the signal to spend February 23 at Lola Cars International’s
Huntingdon factory – for a real behind the scenes look at
the company and its capabilities.
A job well done.....
The rush of Lola news
began last week, with the shakedown of the RML chassis. Watching
and waiting from this distance, it’s seemed like an awfully
long time since Lola released those early sketches of the 05/40
– sketches that now bear only a passing resemblance to the
So why has it
taken so long (in reality, it hasn’t taken that long –
it’s just that we’ve all been impatient to see the second,
true LMP2 car, after the Lucchini), and what has been happening
in Huntingdon, during the last year?
Twinley (left) could certainly confirm what has been going on there
for the last five weeks. He and Steve Hay – chief and no.
1 mechanics for Binnie Motorsports – have been working on
the building up of this B05/40, a process that helps the team because
it allows them to become familiar with every part of the car. Twinley
and Hay can pass that knowledge onto the rest of the Binnie team
Adam’s father Pat
is the crew chief, and the whole crew should be reunited by now,
at the brand new Binnie Motorsports facility in New Hampshire.
flying down to meet the car in Florida at the end of next week –
in Bill’s Westwind business jet,” explains Adam Twinley.
“Bill takes the co-pilot’s seat.
“I joined the team
just over a year ago, initially to look after Bill’s historic
cars, but my father and I were involved with Bill racing the Intersport
Lola B2K / 40 last year, at Monza and Le Mans. Monza wasn’t
a good one for us, Bill having been attacked by a Porsche, but Le
Mans was very much the opposite.
“I know Bill wants
to win the class again at Le Mans – and to be honest, I’ve
never looked forward to a season of racing more than I do now.”
That has more than a little to do with the fact that Adam Twinley
has a B05/40 to tinker with this year.
So what can the mechanic
tells us about the B05/40?
Lola is a very impressive car, with some lovely details. We’ve
got Penske 4-way, F1 dampers on it, the first time they’ve
ever been used on a sportscar, we’ve got an F1-type refuelling
nozzle… it’s going to be a great car.
confident about the capabilities of the whole package – not
least the Nicholson-McLaren engine. A lot of work has gone into
the V8: it’s low, it’s light, it’s powerful, and
as a Champ Car engine, it revved much higher than we’ll ever
“Bill is passionate
about his motorsport, and that’s where the enthusiasm starts,
much of that same enthusiasm pervading the atmosphere at Lola.
Chris Saunders, for example. His title is Technical Centre Manager
at Lola Cars International: the four-post rig had a customer’s
car sitting on it, after a morning’s development of the car’s
dampers, while Chris is also in charge of Lola’s wind tunnel.
Have you ever
been inside a wind tunnel? David Lord and I certainly hadn’t
– until yesterday. Lola’s weapon for aero. development
is a large tunnel, with a moving floor (which moves through a typical
4 degrees to simulate yaw) – and sitting there was the final
version of the B05/40 model. Let’s say £80,000 worth
of carbon fibre model: that gives an idea of the expense that has
gone into producing the first few examples of the LMP2 car. At least
the model can also be used for development of the LMP1 version.
tunnel’s fans were made by Lola’s own Composite Tooling
& Structures Ltd., and spinning at 800 rpm, they generate wind
speeds of up to 145 mph (65 metres per second), which allows the
aerodynamics team to explore every little detail of the B05/40 –
with some CFD assistance from Phil Tiller, upstairs in the design
is an ex-Williams and McLaren aero. man (he joined Lola in 1994),
while Senior Aerodynamicist Phil Tiller arrived at Lola from Jaguar’s
F1 team, last year: There’s a vast array of skill and top-level
experience on display at the company.
There has been
considerable investment into the whole technical facility too, since
Martin Birrane acquired the company in 1997. Here's one result of
that investment: Lola Group MD Rupert Manwaring is on the left,
receiving the an MIA Business of the Year award, from X-trac's Peter
260 hours, in total, perhaps a little more," is the length
of time the wind tunnel team (Dan Cox, Mark Humphries, Terry Clifton
Atfield, Nick Rowlerson, Russell Annison, Ben Pettitt, Andy Mount
and Jim Davison) has spent with the B05/40 model. That's very expensive
time - but very productive time.
Tiller (right) took us through how Computational Fluid Dynamics
simulations can support and speed up the wind tunnel work. Phil
had a marvellous ‘slide show’ set up on a laptop, which
worked through the CFD process in a simple, clear way that even
David Lord and I could understand. One conclusion would be that
no matter how hard the rule-makers work to create a ‘spec.’
aerodynamic package, the really clever chaps will take the basic
package – then develop it to the fullest extent possible.
What else would you expect of such clever ‘bods’, with
all that brain and computing power at their fingertips?
catch up with B05/40 Chief Designer Julian Sole – a man born
and bred at Lola, where he began as a model maker – but Julian
Cooper, Head of Engineering at the company provided a fascinating
overview of the current ‘position’ of prototypes, as
the company begins to work towards an LMP1 version of the new LMP2.
Here he is with a Voodoo Aerial Target which was part-designed by
Lola's composite arm, CTS, for Meggitt Defence. Aerospace, Military
and Marine work is getting bigger and bigger for the Lola Group,
with clients including GKN, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and BAe Systems.
Chassis dimensions of
the LMP1 and LMP2 versions can be the same, although Cooper admits
that the LMP1 “might have a longer wheelbase, to accommodate
Do you remember when
the suggestion was put forward that there was actually little point
in different manufacturers each building their own LMP chassis,
because the regulations were so restrictive – therefore there
might as well be a spec. chassis, with each company creating its
own aero. package? Julian Cooper does, and it wouldn’t be
hard to imagine Lola making a basic monocoque available to another
manufacturer. But race car design and construction isn’t really
like that, is it?
notably in North America, seem keen to build their own interpretation
of the prototype rules, but they’re going to have a very tough
job to create something (which might well be cheaper than the Lola
product) that is anything close to competitive. Not that the Lola
is expensive: more than once the thought occurred that the B05/40
is actually remarkable value.
summed up the problem very simply: “There’s a cost-performance
equation.” That says it all, doesn’t it? “It’s
actually very difficult to make any money out of a limited run of
doubt that Lola could build a cheaper car than the B05/40 –
indeed, what they have done is build a cheaper car than the EX257
/ B01/60. How has that been possible?
“The B01/60 really
was a manufacturer’s car, rather than a privateer chassis.
That was a very trick car, with some very clever, but very expensive,
components. It was built right down to the 675 kg weight limit,
but with the B05/40, we’ve had another 75 kg to play with.
That has meant we could use simpler composites for some parts of
the bodywork, which has meant heavier bodywork: not heavy, just
a little heavier. The hubs on the 675 car were very much ‘trick’
components, which have been made simpler on the new car. We also
haven’t used titanium, but we have designed the car to have
a separate bellhousing (so we can fit a variety of engines), rather
than an integral component.
it’s been designed as a privateer car, we’ve made access
to components better – and we didn’t need to use the
‘starternator’ that was a feature of the 675 car. The
alternator is now very accessible, while we’ve fitted twin
starters and batteries, which should eliminate any problems firing
up after a pit stop.
system is also unique: it’s packaged like a shoe box –
you can simply slip it out and replace it.”
The B05/40 really
is a beautiful piece of work. The Lola engineers have had to be
patient throughout 2004, all the while having a degree of confidence
perhaps unmatched in any recent Lola prototype. The details on the
car are beautiful to behold.
to design and build the EX257 in just a few months, then rush down
to Le Mans for the Test Day in 2001,” remembers Julian Cooper.
The 05/40 has had a much
more extensive design process – but for the staff at CTS,
and in the build shop, it’s just the same as ever. Work long
hours and get them built in time.
Ian Beevor is
the Purchasing Manager at CTS, where all the composite pieces are
carefully manufactured: so that’s the tub, plus about 60 other
bodywork components. It was a real education, discovering how much
effort goes into making each part – and then how much time
is spent adding all the fittings to each part.
There were some
conveniently placed components at hand – the largest of them
unfinished, just as they came out of one of the autoclaves (above)
– which fitted together beautifully.
Notice how the
floor panel displays the slope up towards the outside edge of the
floor, and then the large radius leading to the vertical side panel.
the ‘ramp’ of the floor that gave us the problems early
on,” says Phil Tiller. “The downforce was awful initially,
because the air just leaked out of the sides – just as the
regulators planned that it should. But we have managed to achieve
a sensible L/D.”
most revealing (literally) image that Phil Tiller presented was
the B05/40 colour-coded to show where the downforce was being produced.
You could literally see how the nose and the wing work together
to produce a balanced car.
With the stable
regulations currently in place, it wouldn’t be difficult to
imagine Lola Cars International matching or exceeding the 16 B2K/40s
they built for the SR2 (then 675) regulations. Ultimately, demand
for the product will depend on its performance: the first man to
assess the Binnie Motorsports example will be Andy Wallace –
at Moroso Park, on March 1. In more ways than one, he is the perfect
professional to have at the wheel, isn’t he?
will be provided by David Scotney, long time Lola support engineer
and all-round sportscar afficianado. He was previously team manager
for the Nissan Group C effort in 1989 / 90, a car that Lola built,
of course - and he's a very familiar face around the sportscar paddocks
of the world.
The LMP1 version will
require larger radiators (therefore different side mouldings), bigger
wheels & tyres, bigger brakes (15" instead of 14"),
a stronger nosebox and the appropriate amount of ballast. Perhaps
we’ll be looking at an LMP1 debut at Sebring in 2006? If the
LMP2 goes as well as these clever Lola people think it will, perhaps
there will be a queue forming in Huntingdon before long?
to Sam Smith, Press Officer at Lola Cars International.