Lola LMP cars were in good positions as the 60th running of the Sebring 12 Hours reached the halfway stage on Saturday. A duel round of the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship and the 2012 American Le Mans Series, Sebring is the traditional curtain raiser for the sports car year.
Six Lola LMP designed and built sports cars started the race under cloudless skies with the brace of Rebellion Lola-Toyota LMP1 coupes getting a flying start to run in 5th and 6th places in the early exchanges. Neel Jani, racing in his third season for the Anglo/Swiss team fought for the lead in the unofficial petrol class and after an early pit stop under a yellow flag caution the #12 Lola dovetailed 4th place with the MuscleMilk HPD.
Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld continued the good work and with 6 hours gone the Toyota V8 powered Lola was in 3rd place and looking strong. The #13 sister Lola-Toyota of Andrea Belicchi/Harold Primat and Jeroen Bleekemolen was delayed with a pneumatic gear selection problem. Despite this the team repaired the mechanism and returned the car to the fray and so began a considerable recovery drive to complete the halfway stage in 10th position in LMP1.
Dyson Racing were having an excellent debut in their brand new Lola B12/60 LMP1 car. After starting in the lower reaches of the LMP1 order, Chris Dyson was soon carving his way through the field and with trouble free stints for Guy Smith and Steven Kane, Dyson took over for another turn at the wheel in the sixth hour with the Mazda powered Lola in 7th place overall and 2nd in the ALMS standings.
In LMP2, the Lola B12/80 LMP2 entered by Lotus enjoyed a solid debut with Mirco Schultis, Luca Moro and Thomas Holzer placing as high as 5th. After a long pit stop to replace 'dive plane' bodywork parts at the front of the Lola designed and built LMP2, the German team were placed in 6th in the LMP2 class.
Gulf Racing Team Middle East had endured a challenging week with their new Lola B12/80 but were racing hard in the LMP2 class with Stefan Johansson spearheading the teams attack. An early spin and slight damage to the rear legality panels of the Nissan powered Lola necessitated a pit stop to replace them. Despite this the team were placed 9th in the LMP2 class overall at the halfway mark.
The Black Swan Lola LMP2 coupe fought back from an early puncture and spin for team owner Tim Pappas. But after consistent stints and using their experience of the Sebring track, the Boston based team were 10th in the LMP2 category and well placed to finish their first ever LMP2 race.
For live updates on the six Lola entries please click on to www.twitter.com/LolaRacer
After 6 Hours - Leading LMP order
1. LMP1 #2 Audi R18 191laps
2. LMP1 #3 Audi R18 191 laps
3. LMP1 #12 Rebellion Lola 189 laps
4. LMP1 MuscleMilk HPD 189 laps
5. LMP1 JRM HPD 189 laps
6. LMP1 Oak Pescarolo 187 laps
7. LMP1 Dyson Lola-Mazda 186laps
8. LMP2 Oak Morgan 186laps
9. LMP2 #55 Level 5 HPD 186laps
10. LMP2 Pecom ORECa 186laps
11. LMP2 Starworks HPD 186laps
12. LMP1 Pescarolo 186laps
13. LMP2 Greaves Zytek 185laps
14. LMP1 Strakka HPD 185laps
15. LMP2 ADR Delta ORECA 184laps
19. LMP2 Lola-Lotus 181laps
35. LMP2 Gulf Lola-Nissan 174laps
39. LMP2 Black Swan Lola-HPD 174laps
50. LMP1 Rebellion #13 Lola 160laps