Autocon – Great Test At Butonwillow
Michael Lewis and the Autocon team chose to test their B01/60 Lola in California this week, rather than Sebring last month. The test went so well (on Monday and Tuesday), they stopped at that point, not needing a third day.

“This was very much a familiarity test, as much as anything,” said Michael Lewis. “The Lola is new to everybody on the team, from the crew to the drivers. The two days went about as perfectly as one could imagine.”

Under clear blue skies and mild 70-degree temperatures, the team turned nearly 150 laps on the 1.43-mile, 12-turn east loop of Buttonwillow Raceway.

Butch Leitzinger was there to assist, and was “impressed with how effortlessly everything went and how quickly Autocon has adapted. There’s a difference between the older generation Riley & Scott the team campaigned last year and the Lola, and the team looks ready to make the change successfully.”

Butch set the best lap, a 57.8 second lap, near the unofficial east loop record, while the best from the Autocon trio (Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman) was an impressive 58.3. The only glitch during the two days was a broken shift linkage that took only a few minutes to change.“Hearing Butch’s insights on what the car likes and wants was super beneficial,” commented Chris McMurry (right). “We all picked up some useful pointers we’ll use all season, and as everyone knows, he’s a great personality and consummate pro.

“The jump from the (Miracle) Courage C65 to the Lola felt natural. Both have the AER turbo and many similar characteristics. But as a driver you always want more, and the most rewarding differences were the better acceleration and braking of the lighter car, and the less physical experience of the paddle-shifting and power steering. The car is a pleasure to drive, and we all feel really good about what we’ll accomplish this season.”

The team is using Dunlop rubber this season, and apart from “a little difficulty getting heat in the fronts,” said Michael Lewis, “but that was more of a track issue,” the drivers were very happy with their tyres.

“After chasing (and sometimes beating) the Lola my entire sports car career, it's a great pleasure to actually drive it, at least after learning how to control the fire-breathing turbo," said Bryan Willman (below). “We'll have one of the most completely sorted cars in the P1 field going into a 12-hour race on the roughest permanent course in North America. If ever there was a time to catch the rest of the P1 field out, this will be it. I am very hopeful.”

Next stop Sebring.


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