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Steve Knight, driver and co-owner of the KnightHawk Racing MG Lola on the American Le Mans Series, took the time to answer 20 questions selected from queries sent in by readers of this website. A personality from the American Le Mans Series will answer reader questions approximately every two weeks.

Tobin Smith: Steve, what would you say is the main difference between your Le Mans prepared version of the MG and the Factory prepared MG they'll take to La Sarthe? Good luck rest of the season, really enjoyed watching your car at Sebring, very exciting to see you do so well against the 900's.

Steve Knight (SK): Tobin, Since we are communicating on a regular basis with the MG factory team and the car's and engine's constructors, Lola and Advanced Engine Research, I do not think there will be much of a difference, except in the tire choice. The Factory has a relationship with Michelin of which we do not have the privilege, so I think that any significant difference will be to the advantage of whoever makes the best choice of tires for the prevailing weather and track conditions. They also have a formidable array of drivers, some of the best in the world. But our team will not be ignored like a busboy at Hooters...we will give every competitor out there a run for their money.
Alex Angeles: How competitive do you think the LMP675 cars will become in the near future as compared to the LMP900 cars for an overall win?

SK: Alex, As has been shown by the two efforts at Sebring by our team and the Intersport team, these MG Lola's are first class race cars; undoubtedly some of the most sophisticated and capable LMPs in the world. Our hope...no, our mission is to perform, as drivers and as a team, to the high limits set by the machinery. Our results will show whether we are capable of rising to that challenge.

[email protected]: Hi, Steve. I just wanted to know what the top speed, 0-60 and 1/4 mile times for the LLC Lola EX257/AER MG LMP675 and how many lateral g's it's capable of pulling. Thank you for your time.

SK: PanconLeche, That's a good question. Since I never look at the readout for MPH or KPH, only the shift lights and warning lights, I frankly do not know. I just try to keep my legs and arms inside the vehicle and enjoy the ride. I'll have to ask the engineers at Lola and get back to you on that one.

Franck Hasle: Hello, I'm a French fan of ALMS races from France (Le Mans). My question is: will you change or get better the "simple" livery of your MG Lola?. Thank you and have overall victories against Audi and Panoz.

SK: Franck, Boy, are you in luck. We changed our graphics just for you this week. I think you will like our new design, very French, but with an American dash of style.

Z.L. Olkowski, ScD, MD, FRMS: Hi Steve! Medical team at the Road Atlanta Race Track congratulates you on your achievements at Sebring's 50 Anniversary Race!!!!!!

SK: Dr. Ziggy, If it were not for your smiling face looking down on me that fateful day at Road Atlanta, I would not be here, driving in the best racing series the world has ever known, the ALMS. Your spirit and enthusiasm kept me going and made me want to reach higher than I thought possible. I will always remember you and your staff with kindness and gratitude.

Jimmy Ingle: Steve, how did you meet Mel Hawkins, your partner in KnightHawk Racing?

SK: Jimmy, We met when we were both driving for a team based in Portland, Oregon, Phillips Motorsports. We had a great time there, being coached by one of the best in the business, Pierre Phillips. We actually have very similar backgrounds, being somewhat successful in business, but what really cemented our relationship were a commonality of goals and a sincere trust in one another. Just the right combination for a partnership based on mutual respect.

[email protected]: Who will be your drivers at Le Mans this year?

SK: Adowling462, Mel and I will be joined by Duncan Dayton. You may recall that he was one of the very capable drivers of the Intersport MG Lola at Sebring this year, where they won the LMP 675 class honors. Duncan has a long history of success in high-powered, top of the line racecars. We think he will be a formidable addition to our line-up.

Brett Peterson: Will ALMS have its own 24 hour American race?

SK: Brett, You would have to ask Don Panoz that question. If it were up to me, I would love to have a Le Mans-style 24 hour race in America. As a matter of fact, I think Denver would be a great place to have it, so I could sleep in my own bed the night before the race.

Heather Catchings: Steve, how far has KnightHawk Racing come since you went to your first ALMS race at Portland in 2000?

SK: Heather, You've been watching! In 2000, when Mel and I bought our first Lola, the B2K/40, our goal was to win the ALMS LMP675 Championship and go podium at Le Mans. Sometimes your dreams are like a long flight of stairs...you have to keep your eyes focused on the top, while you climb each step one at time. To reach so high is never easy. You just have to believe in yourself, never say die, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Everyone on our team believes that life is not a spectator sport, you have to get out there and go for it.

Brent Kane: Steve, I'm not related to him, but will we see Johnny Kane In your car again this season?

SK: Brent, Jonny is a great driver and a great person to have as a teammate. I would love to have him run with us again, but he is under contract to the Lola
and MG factories. At this point, I'm not sure whether he will be joining us again.

Simon Bilodeau: Hi, I would like to know how the chassis of your new EX257 feels compared to the B2K/40 you raced last year. Also, how does this year's little turbo inline-4 compare to the bigger V6 you had last year on the drivability and power departments?

SK: Simon, Even though they both come from Lola, the resemblance ends there. From the time the pen was put to paper (or the mouse wired to the computer) at Lola, their objective was to use the latest F1 technology and manufacturing techniques to build a car specifically for the LMP 675 class. If you could say that the B2K/40 does everything at the speed of sound, the MG Lola does everything at the speed of light. The power from that beautiful AER 2.0 Liter turbo is like greased lightning. The turn-in, the braking, the corning force is unbelievable. I feel very privileged that I have the opportunity to drive a car like this in my lifetime. If I could have one other wish, it would be that I could take every fan for a lap at Le Mans or Road Atlanta.

J. Shupe: Can the MG Lola take the fight to the Sarthe? I know that the MG Lola was able to race the 900 cars at Sebring, but do you think you can compete with the 900 cars at Le Mans with the long Mulsanne strait and the high speeds? How much lower is your car's top speed than the more powerful 900 cars?

SK: J., I believe that our car will be about 10-15 MPH slower on top speed on the long straights, but our cornering is equal and our tire wear and fuel mileage should be better, in theory. At Sebring, we saw that we could come off of the corners just as fast, so when you add it all up, I think we have a very good chance of competing well.

[email protected]: Any chance of an outright win at La Sarthe? With Le Mans fast approaching do you see yourself or the factory MG squad with a realistic chance of winning outright or any other LMP675 car? I'm personally gonna be backing you guys and the MG squad for an outright win.

SK: CorvetteC5RGTS, As someone said in relation to football, "On any given Sunday..."We have all seen teams in victory circle who did not necessarily have the fastest car. Just remember what the Corvette team did at Daytona a few years ago. I believe that we have a car capable of winning, given the right circumstances. To win, we only need the best car, the best drivers, the best team and a little bit of luck during those 24 hours.

Dr. Stuart Schaller (dretceterini): Dear Steve, Can you please tell us why your team decided to buy the Lola/MG rather than another car, such as a "privateer" Audi?

SK: Stuart, Since we had a great relationship with Lola and AER from our 2000 and 2001 seasons, we felt confident of their abilities. Quite frankly, we never looked at the Audis. When we went to Le Mans last year, we saw that the MG Lola was proven to be fast, and we believed in the expertise and determination of Lola and AER to have sorted out the initial problems they encountered when the car was "right out of the box." Based on our short experience with the car, I know we made the right choice.

Matthew Roth: Steve, how does the MG Lola compare to the Nissan Lolas in the size of the engine?

SK: Matthew, Our MG Lola has a 2-liter, four cylinder, turbocharged engine. Our Lola B2K/40 had a 3.4-liter six cylinder engine. The 2-liter turbo has The advantages of less weight and more power. I can tell you that when you put your foot down in the MG Lola it is like your mother slapped you in the head when you weren't looking. Yowww, what a rush!

Nissan Ned: Steve, what has become of the Lola-Nissan you raced last year? Also, will Claudia Huertgen be racing with you any more?

SK: Nissan Ned, We still have our Lola B2K/40 but would like to sell it, especially to you- are you interested? Ain't no use havin' an itch if you can't scratch it, so throw a little money our way and get ready to call that divorce lawyer. Considering Claudia, she was one of the best drivers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. If there is a way to work with her again, I would be thrilled, but I don't know what our driver line-up for the rest of the season will be at this point.

Broadway Joe: Steve, are you still working with Archangel Motorsports? If so, will Archangel enter its own car in any ALMS races this year?

SK: Broadway Joe, When we purchased the MG Lola, we needed to expand our team to fill some critical positions. We looked around and found what we believe to be exceptional people with a record of success. So, we asked Mike Johnson, the owner of Archangel, if he would like to come to work with us, and
whether he would bring some of his other teammates. To our crew of talented people from Germany, England and America, we added several of the people from Archangel. Our intention for KnightHawk Racing is to be the best in the LMP 675 class. Archangel may continue to field a car or two in Grand Am or possibly ALMS, and we will help them along as long as it doesn't take away from our effort.

Jeffrey H. Boatright: Steve, Congratulations again on your invitation to Le Mans. I wish you the best of luck there and in the series. Given the expenses involved in moving a team back and forth across the pond, the time pressures of testing for a much different track (Le Mans versus most American venues), what would be your ideal race schedule for the ALMS in the first half of the season? Can Le Mans be fit into the schedule such that more ALMS can realistically participate in the series and the 24 hour classic? Thanks.

SK: Jeffrey, If it were up to me, I would like to run about 300 races a year, just like NASCAR, but my team mates would drop me faster than a freshman dropping third period calculus. It would actually help us as drivers to have more time in the car. I am always faster half way through the season than I am at the start. But, as we all realize, money is a limited commodity, except for Bill Gates or Audi. So, in the real world, the ALMS and ACO (the Le Mans organizers) balance the schedule quite well. The hard part is getting an invitation to Le Mans. If one is enterprising and successful enough to get that ticket, you can always come up with the money.

Quebec Nordique: Steve, we look forward to having you and the MG Lola At Trois-Rivieres this year. We're excited about the ALMS coming here. What's your favorite circuit so far in your career?

SK: Quebec Nordique, I really like Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca. But then again, I have never driven Trois-Rivieres! I have heard that you have the best circuits, the best beer, the best clubs, and you have Don Cherry. What more could anyone want? I am really looking forward to sampling some of Canada's best (but not Cherry).

[email protected]: How did you start racing and build your way up to Le Mans racing? What would you suggest to do to get started into racing and build up to Le Mans?

SK: Lemans241, I started racing when I was very young. I'm not sure if the statute of limitations has expired, so I will not acknowledge whether it was before I was licensed to drive on the street. I was always fascinated with the challenge of testing my mind and coordination against a winding road with a fast car. It is one aspect of my character that I have not outgrown. They say that when a race driver's too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice. So, my advice to anyone facing the same demented visions is to start in karts or club racing and work your way up as you acquire higher skills, success and the requisite financial ability to put your butt in more sophisticated equipment. By the way, I still run my shifter kart whenever I am at home.
 
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