The Ex – Dyson Racing, 2nd in ALMS, 2012 Lola B12/60 Mazda LMP1

The Ex-Dyson Racing, 2nd in ALMS, Current Outright Silverstone Historic GP Circuit Lap Record Holding

2012 Lola B12/60 Mazda LMP1

If you are fan of international sports car racing it is impossible to ignore Lola cars significant contribution to the sport of the last 60 plus years. Established in 1958, Lola cars had an influential impact on the motor racing world from the minute they burst onto the scene with the stunning Lola Mk1. The company remained at the forefront of racing car design and construction for over half a century and enjoyed remarkable success with single-seaters as well as in Sports and GT racing. 

Lola was founded and masterminded by one of most renowned and regarded British race car designers, Eric Broadley. Trained as an architect in the late 1940s and like so many of his compatriots, he started out building and racing his own creations. Spurred on by the success of the Broadley Special he turned his attention to a new, more sophisticated venture.

In July 1958 the Lola MK1 made its debut and was an instant success, turning the sports car world on its head. Single seaters followed and after only four years of being in business Lola took on the Formula 1 establishment with the Mk4 which proved to be very successful, becoming a regular at the front of the grid during 1962. 

Soon came another sports racer with the Mk6 GT, a project of Broadley’s which combined the compact size and strong performance of a Ford V8 with an aluminium monocoque chassis. In 1963, after showing promise at Le Mans, Ford bought the project from Lola and tested the car further involving Broadley himself. This Mk6GT really laid the foundation for the GT40, a car which became a legend of sports car racing worldwide. 

From the MK6 Broadley focussed his immense talent on a string of Formula 2 cars before creating what has to be one of the most ionic sports cars of its era, the T70. Lola went on to be a force to be reckoned with in the popular 2-litre sports prototype championships both in Europe and America. Although Lola made a number of returns to Formula 1,  Lola’s prominent success in single seaters came with a long standing domination at Indianapolis and throughout the highly competitive Indy Car series.

Lola victories continued thick and fast into the ‘90s when the company won three successive European Formula 3000 Championships and Mark Blundell set the new lap record at Le Mans in a Lola-built Nissan. With a reputation for innovative design, build quality and possessing one of the leading wind tunnels in Europe, they have continued to lead the way in what ever series they have put their hand to. Eric Broadley remained at the helm of Lola until 1997 when he sold the company to well known Irish racer and business man Martin Birrane, where the company was renamed Lola Cars International.

A multiple veteran of the 24 Hour race, Birrane’s passion for Le Mans took Lola back into sports car racing for the first time since 1992. Lola embarked on an ambitious project: to create an affordable prototype for racing teams, capable of competing in endurance racing at the very highest level anywhere in the world. The result was the B98/10, designed to compete in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the International Sports Racing Series and, of course, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unveiled at Atlanta in September 1998, the Lola B98/10 was the start of a succession of competitive Le Mans Prototypes to come from Lola. 

Lola Cars International and the start of a long standing relationship with Dyson Racing 

The connection with this car really starts with the MG-Lola project in 2001. In a desire to promote the brand, MG wanted to take advantage of the ACO’s new LMP675 for cars with smaller turbocharged engines that would be lighter and more nimble, making it possible for them to compete with the larger, more powerful LMP900 class. MG turned to Lola Cars International to build the car. With similarities to the car Lola had produced the year before, the B2K/10 and B2K/40, Lola designed a new car, the EX257, specifically for the LMP675 formula.

Keen for the car to be powered by an engine based on one of their production engines, MG turned to Advanced Engine Research (AER) for construction of their engine and Garrett for turbocharging it. Using some elements of MG’s production engines, the new 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-4 cylinder engine, known as the MG XP20 (AER designation P07), produced approximately 500 bhp, limited by air restrictors put in place by the ACO to equalise cars. Incredibly light, weighing in at only 690 kg, utilising a more ‘MG looking’ grill at the front and a low slung design, the end product proved to be very effective. 

Arriving at Le Mans in 2001 the EX257 showed its potential, but both cars were hampered by reliability issues and retired early on. In 2002 the EX257 were offered to private teams, one of which to take up the opportunity was Dyson Racing. 

Founded by Rob Dyson in 1974 and based in  in Poughkeepsie, New York, Dyson Racing has established itself as one of the most successful sports car racing teams in America with 19 championships to its name, 72 victories and 224 podiums. Starting with the Lola MG part way through the 2002 season, in 2003 they went on to win the LMP675 Team championship in ALMS with Chris Dyson winning the LMP675 drivers championship. 

To fit in with the new ALMS rules the Lola-AER as they were now known, were run in LMP1 for 2004, 2005 and a Lola B06/10 AER in 2006. The team managed to take 2nd and 3rd in the championship for each of these years. Dyson Racing switched to running the new Porsche Spyder in LMP2 for 2007 and 2008 before returning to Lola with two BP sponsored B09/86 closed cockpit cars. Again powered by the AER Mazda.

For 2009 the team took 2nd and 4th in the ALMS Championship with Marino Franchitti / Butch Leitzinger and Chris Dyson / Guy Smith, respectively. They ran the B09/86 for a further two years taking 4th and 5th in the 2010 and 1st and 5th in 2011. For 2012 the team acquired the new Lola B12/60 chassis B12/60 HU01.

The Lola B12/60

The Lola B08/60 was Lola Cars International’s first closed-cockpit sports prototype built since the 1992 T92/10. Announced in late 2006, the B08/60 had been developed following not only Peugeot’s introduction of their closed-cockpit coupe, the 908 HDi, but also the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s (ACO) announcement of rule changes in 2010 that would have allowed only closed-cockpit LMP1s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lola set out to build a car that could compete with the aerodynamic advantages of the 908 and other planned coupes, while getting ahead for the 2010 rule changes.

The design of the B08/60 shares many elements with its predecessor, the B06/10, with notable exception of the closed versus open cockpits. The nose and sidepods feature similar cooling and venting structures as the B06/10, while a slightly larger nose is based on the 2007-spec designs offered by Lola. Phil Tiller was in charge of the B08/60’s aerodynamics, and developed the narrow cockpit. Integrated in the cockpit design was a roof-mounted air intake for the engine. The shoulders of the cockpit were also designed in a stepped fashion.

The B08 and the uprated B09 series of cars ran in both Le Mans and ALMS, in both LMP1 and LMP2 specification, with a variety of engines. Prodrive fitted the Aston Martin V12 engine to an uprated version of the B08/60 to create their Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 or Aston Martin DBR1-2 as it was also known. 

A change in the regulations prompted Lola to develop an evolution of the company’s LMP1 car for the 2012 season. The most profound rule change was the now mandatory fin on the engine cover that was intended to prevent rolling when reaching extreme angles during a crash. The revisions in the LMP1 car’s aerodynamics required by the implementations of the fin also inspired the Lola engineers to carry through further changes that made the new B12/60 very distinct from its predecessors.

Following the latest aerodynamics trend, the B12/60 featured very upright and bulbous headlights that were a clear departure from the earlier Lola designs. They were intended to create a better airflow around the very wide front tyres. The minimum size and location of the fin was pre-determined by the regulations, but the Julian Sole led team made the most of it by using the trailing edge of the fin as the mount for the rear wing. Underneath the revised bodywork, the B12/60 was a wholly conventional LMP1 car that was virtually identical to the model it replaced.

Lola had just two customers for the new car; Rebellion Racing in Europe and Dyson Racing in the United States. The former fitted their cars with a Toyota supplied, naturally aspirated V8 while Dyson used a Mazda-badged AER turbo-charged four cylinder engine. Rebellion opted to update their existing cars, which used chassis the team had been racing since 2009 and 2010 respectively, while Dyson Racing acquired two brand new chassis, B12/60 HU01 and B12/60 HU02 (this car). The second Dyson B12/60 HU02 did not debut until the 2013 ALMS season.

This car: B12/60 HU02

This car, B12/60 HU02, is the second of the two new chassis supplied by Lola Cars International. Beautifully manufactured in pre-preg autoclaved carbon fibre, with its strong carbon front platform, the Dyson racing cars differed from the normally aspirated Toyota engine Rebellion cars in that they carried the air intakes for the engine down low on the side pods rather than on the roof, giving a cleaner roof line. They also ran the same size wheels front and rear, relying on power assisted steering to overcome the extra grip produced. 

Having started the 2013 season in the 2012 car, B12/60 HU01, at Sebring for the 12 hours, B12/60 HU02’s (this car), first outing was the next round of the ALMS was at Long Beach on 20th of April. With Chris Dyson and Guy Smith sharing the driving duties they qualified 2nd on the grid behind the B12/60 Toyota of Rebellion racing. However sadly in the race Chris Dyson understeered into the barrier on the hairpin. Although a relatively slow speed collision, it put them out of the race.

From Long Beach the next event was a few hours north in Monterey for the Laguna Seca 4 Hours on the 11th of May. With Dyson and Smith behind the wheel they again qualified 2nd behind Rebellion Racing. Having set one of the fastest laps of the race, it was not to be on this occasion, retiring on lap 21. 

The team’s luck was to change in July at Lime Rock where Dyson and Smith qualified 2nd and finished 2nd to the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD of  Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr. 

From Lime Rock the team headed north for the next round of the ALMS at Gosport in Canada. This time HU02 was driven Canadian Tony Burgess and American Chris McMurry. Qualifying an impressive 2nd behind the Muscle Milk Picket Racing car of Graf and Luhr they finished 6th and 2nd in LMP1.

HU02’s next outing was the ALMS round at Road America on the 11th of August, again driven by Burgess and McMurry. Having qualified 2nd begin Graf and Luhr, they held on to finish 2nd, less than second behind Garf and Luhr. 

The close rivalry with Graf and Luhr continued three weeks later on the 31st of August at the ALMS round at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. Driven by the original pairing of Dyson and Smith, they yet again put the car on the front row in 2nd place to the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing car of Graf and Luhr. Leading off of the line ahead of a multiple car pile up behind, they just missed out of the top spot to come in 2nd.

From Baltimore to Austin and the Circuit of the Americas on the 21st of September and it was the same two cars out front again. This time driven by Burgess and McMurry HU02 finished where it started in 2nd place.  

On the 5th of October the ALMS moved to to the VIR for the Oak Tree Grand Prix. This time driven by the all British line up of Guy Smith and Johnny Mowlem they qualified on pole position ahead of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and having set the fastest lap of the race came in 2nd.

The last round of the ALMS season and what was to be the last round of ALMS before it was reborn under a different name was Petit Le Mans at Road America on the 19th of October. Sadly the weekend did not go as they had hoped. With Chris Dyson sharing the driving with Burgess and McMurray for the 9 hour race, Dyson spun out of the final session of qualifying putting them 33rd on the grid. Although running up in 5th by the 7th hour they sat the last four laps of the race out in the pits putting them 11th overall. 

By the end of the 2013 ALMS season Dyson Racing had come 2nd overall to Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, with Tony Burgess and Chris McMurray joint 3rd in the drivers championship, Chris Dyson 4th and Guy Smith 6th. As Dyson Racing focused their efforts elsewhere, HU02 remained with the team until it was purchased via Bob Berridge, from them, by British GT and historic racer, Steve Tandy in 2017.

Taking delivery of the car, he had Peter Chambers Automotive (UK) prepare the car and after a shake down at Donington in April 2018 they went to Imola for the Masters Endurance Legends racing where Steve qualified well and took 2nd overall in the first race. 

With the next two rounds in the UK Steve took a 2nd and a 3rd at Brands Hatch and then pole and both wins at the Silverstone Classic. After Silverstone the engine went back to AER for some work and then it was off to the Nürburgring for another win and a 2nd and two 2nd at Spa.

Steve ran HU02 again in 2019 starting with two 3rd and a fastest lap at Paul Ricard, a 3rd and a 1st at Monza, two more 2nd at the Silverstone Classic and victory in the night race at Spa with 3rd in the second race. 

With another project demanding his attention and then the onslaught of COVID-19 he did not race the car again until 2022 Silverstone Classic where he shared HU02 with Rob Wheldon. Qualifying on the front row in the wet, Rob won the first race, breaking the all time lap record for the Silverstone Historic Grand Prix circuit in the process and Steve had to retire from the 2nd race with a spark plug problem. It is worth noting that this is still the current lap record. 

Not long after the Silverstone Classic HU02 was purchased by the current owner. A keen and competitive racer, he shared the driving with and has the car prepared by Martin O’Connell and O’Connell Racing. Having done some initial testing their first event was the Masters Endurance Legends race at Barcelona. Qualifying 5th and 1st in the two qualifying sessions, they were 1st across the line, but the pro driver time penalty took them down to 5th overall. 

The next outing was at Brands Hatch in may where they qualified 3rd and went on to win the race setting the fastest time of the race while they were at it. From Brands Hatch it was off to Austria and the Red Bull Ring where they qualified 6th but did not race due to an engine problem.

Upon returning from Austria the engine was removed and was sent to AER for a full refresh and as it sits in the car today it has zero hours on it. HU02 is accompanied by a substantial spares package including bodywork and two spare sets of wheels. Only being sold to make way for another exciting opportunity, if you want to take on the Masters Endurance Legends (both Europe & USA series), HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour and HSR Classic Daytona 24 Hour, this is your short cut to the front of the grid!