The first ‘customer’ MG Lola EX257 sportscar has been purchased by American-based KnightHawk Racing - who will use the car in the LMP675 class of the 2002 American Le Mans series, and hope to take it to Le Mans in June for the 24-Hours.
The rapid sportscar, demonstrated to American teams by Jonny Kane at Sebring before Christmas, is expected by the team not only to battle for class victory, but also give them a shot at overall honours in races. In 2001 KnightHawk Racing were runners-up in the LMP 675 category.
''We wanted to build on our 2001 success with Lola and AER (the engine builders),” said KnightHawk co-owner and driver Steve Knight, “and aim to move on to win the 2002 ALMS 675 Championship. We also have unfinished business at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June, where we raced last year. Now in 2002, we will be in France with a package capable of winning overall - and that was also a factor in our choosing the MG Lola.''
The two-litre turbo-charged sportscar is significantly lighter than the current race winning LMP 900 class cars, and its excellent fuel economy will make it a serious contender in the longer races in the series. In testing at Sebring the car went quicker than the pole time for the ALMS race at the circuit.
Knighthawk are in withe a winning chance at Le Mans!
Privateer team aims for ALMS and Le Mans titles in 2002
KnightHawk: hoping to go one better than last year
KnightHawk Racing, runner up in last year's American Le Mans Series' LMP 675 Championship, has become the first team to commit to running a privateer MG Lola 675 LMP in this year's series. The team also plans an assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Lola-built car.
"We wanted to build on our 2001 success with Lola and AER (the engine builders), and aim to move on to win the 2002 675 Championship. We also have unfinished business at the Le Mans 24 Hours," said co-owner and driver Steve Knight. "Now in 2002, we will be in France with a package capable of winning overall - and that was a factor in our choosing the MG Lola."
The lightweight turbo-charged MG Lola demonstrated impressive pace on its Le Mans debut last year, and should be a step up in competitiveness from the Lola B2K/40 Knight and fellow owner/driver, Mel Hawkins, raced in 2002.
The team missed out on last year's ALMS LMP 675 class title by just two points, but with the backing of Lola, a championship challenge is expected.
"We have worked with KnightHawk now for some time, and are always impressed by their organisation, enthusiasm and race performances," said Lola Car's sales manager Nick Jordan. "Now with the MG Lola, the team has set itself a whole new horizon, and our engineers will be working very hard to assist KnightHawk in both testing and races".
Just thought the Knighthawk fans would like to see a report I recieved from Mel Hawkins of KNIGHTHAWK.
Thanks for your interest in the MG Lola and the KnightHawk Racing team. Sebring turned out to the best and the worst for us. We had a great qualifying run, 3rd overall and first in class. It was the first time that a 675 car proved that it could run with the best of the 900 cars. We beat them all in qualifying except for tose awesome factory teams from Audi. Wish I had their funding. The race was a totally different story with a non-stop stream of small problems, mostly steming from the roughness of the track. The smaller car didn't handle it well. We spent over 3 hours in the pits with numerous small problems. The good news was that the engine ran great the whole time. We hadn't tested it's reliability before this race. We were very pleased. Maybe next time we will have the car sorted out and avoid downtown. Without the downtown we would have been competing for a top spot overall at the finish.
Really apprecaite you have the time to "give us the gen". From your press releases you sound very impressed with the overall pacakge. I just can't believe the speed of the car, compared to the other LMP900's, excepting the R8's.
How does the customer car differ from that contested to the one campaigned by MG last summer? Shame the track caused you the problems, is Sebring a one off in this respect?
I know we were all wishing you well over here.
PS On the attached site coincidentally just put up a Special Feature Page based on your site press releases.
Our #4 chassis is the same as the MG cars (#2 chassis & #3 chassis) with maybe a few minor updates. The AER engines are the same basic design, but they continually improve or update every motor, with no two motors being the same. Obviously, the engine reliablity issue has been improved. Sebring is the roughest track, by far, so we should not have as much of a problem with the set-ups in the future races.
JIM and I watched them at Le Mans last year and thought they looked and went fantastic! Shame the series is too far away from the UK to watch your exploits. Have you any pictures of the car during the race I could use on site?
Great job at Sebring. Well done. Thanks for spending a little of your time with us. Can you tell us who the people in the X-Power uniforms were? Just curious how much factory support you are receiving. The more the merrier and good luck at Sears Point. We'll be watching.
Straight after the Le Mans pre-testing on 5th may the MG-Lola will be air freighted from France to the USA. The next race for the team is the 2nd round of the ALMS Championship on 19th May 2002. Third driver is Chad Block who is no stranger to the team.