Team LNT Plans Take Shape
Lawrence Tomlinson and Team LNT Commercial Director Richard Dean filled out more details of the team’s plans for the 2006 season - from their stand at the Autosport Show yesterday.

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The team will be present at the ALMS Winter Test sessions between January 23-25 with a third Panoz Esperante GT-LM, the car being delivered to the team directly from the factory, to the circuit. Warren Hughes and Lawrence Tomlinson will share the shakedown test.

A second, three day, test session at Sebring will follow in early February with all of the team’s drivers so far confirmed for 2006 present: Tomlinson, Hughes, Tom Kimber-Smith and Richard Dean.

The third chassis will stay in the USA in March, to be used for the 12 Hours of Sebring itself. With the early season schedule now very tight indeed, Team LNT will field the new car as a single car entry at the 12 Hours. The other two chassis will be trucked directly from the pre-season test at Paul Ricard to Istanbul.

“We’d have loved to have fielded a two car entry for Sebring, but we felt that it was important to concentrate our resources on our full season Le Mans Series programme,” said Richard Dean (below). The driving squad for Sebring will be Tomlinson, Kimber-Smith and Dean.

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After Sebring, the race car will be shipped back to the UK for a rebuild, before taking up its season-long duties as the team’s entry in the full British GT Championship.

There, Tom Kimber-Smith will lead the Championship effort with a second driver still to be confirmed, supported by his principal sponsor Kleeneze, also the title sponsor for the British GT attack.

Kleeneze will also be seen prominently in the team’s Le Mans Series appearances at Spa and the Nurburgring, supporting the company’s efforts in local markets.

The Le Mans Series driver line up will be Tomlinson and Hughes in the lead car, with Richard Dean to be joined in the second car by an as yet unconfirmed driver.

The team should be well prepared for the rigours of the season to come, with a major testing programme underway: the car on display at the show is due for a visit to the shaker rig next week, before undertaking some sponsorship commitments with Kleeneze. The second car meanwhile continues with an extensive track testing regime, with two day sessions at Valencia and in the UK still on the schedule.

The team is confident of a strong showing in both championships, especially having compared the Panoz data collected so far at Barcelona and Nogaro with data from their 2005 TVR T400Rs.

dailysportscar.comRichard Dean: “Our data logging is identical to the TVRs and we have tested at the same circuits, in the same conditions. Suffice to say for now that we are very, very confident that we have a stronger package. We ran the Ferraris very close last year so I’d guess we’ll raise a few eyebrows this season and I certainly can’t see why we can’t win races in the Le Mans Series in 2006.

“In terms of reliability, not a strong point last season, we have put 17 hours of test running on one car so far and 13 hours on the second: so far the only failure we have had is a broken throttle cable and I did that!”

“It’s a big ‘ask’ for a factory to build, develop and race a car like this and we’re more than happy to be embarking on a development programme. Our involvement over here in Europe can only strengthen the overall programme. Our strength, and that of Multimatic in North America, is in development through competition and so far Multimatic has been enormously helpful to us in sharing their experiences with the car.

“That might well change at Sebring: Multimatic will want to beat us very badly but we see that as a very healthy challenge, then I believe we’ll continue to work well afterwards.”

The team will be submitting two entries for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The road car side of the project is moving forward too. The first right hand drive Esperante GT-LM will be delivered to the UK late in 2006 and will then embark on an extensive test programme to ascertain its suitability for the European market.

 

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