AD Group Lola B08/80 HPD
four years of turbocharged power, the RML
AD Group's Lola returned to a naturally aspirated
engine installation for 2010 and a new partnership
with Honda Performance Development Inc (HPD).
This was a significant move for the team,
but one that harked back to the MG Lola of
2005, and the team's first class win at Le
Mans with the EX264, powered by a Judd V8.
the name of HPD is not widely recognised - certainly
not in Europe - Honda Performance Development
is Honda's racing company within North America,
and is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda
Motor Co., Inc.
in 1993, HPD has a history and reputation for
producing excellent racing engines, and is the
statutory engine supplier for the IndyCar Series
more recent seasons, however, HPD has become closely
associated with sportscar racing through the development
of the highly successful Acura sports prototypes.
These LMP1 and LMP2 chassis, powered by HPD LM-V8
units, have largely dominated petrol-powered competition
in the American Le Mans Series since they were
introduced in 2007. Although RML's interest rest
solely with the naturally aspirated 3.4 litre
LM-V8, much of that engine's reputation is built
upon the success of the Acura ARX chassis. Developed
in partnership with Wirth Research in the UK,
the ARX-01a (LMP2) won first-time-out in the 2007
Sebring 12 Hours, and the two-car squad went on
to collect ten podiums that debut season.
2008, the Acura was the only chassis capable of
competing on equal terms with the all-dominant
Porsche Spyder, and missed the ALMS title by a
single point. That shortfall was rectified in
2009, when the Fernandez Racing ARX-01b swept
the board in LMP2, recording seven pole positions
and eight wins from ten starts, finishing on the
podium in every race and securing both the team
and drivers' titles.
is reliability of that nature which convinced
RML AD Group that the HPD LM-V8 was the right
engine to carry the team forwards into an eighth
season of sports prototype competition, but the
link between HPD and Lola is not a new one. Much
of the original development work on the LMP engine
was carried out in association with Lowe’s
Fernandez Racing in 2007, when the HPD LM-V8 was
first run in a Lola B05/40 very similar to RML's
open-topped MG Lola EX265.
years later and the story moved full circle
as RML AD Group's B08/80 chassis became
the first coupé to benefit from HPD's
motive power. First impressions, following
tests at Silverstone and at the Paul Ricard
HTTT in southern France, proved enormously
encouraging, and the went on to fulfil
the early promise.
Mike, Tommy and "third" drivers for 2010 Andy
Wallace and Ben Collins went on to enjoy success
in the Le Mans Series and in the 24 Hours.
Further details on the appointment of HPD as
2010 engine supplier to RML AD Group can be
found in the dedicated press release here.
there are few visible signs of change to the
Lola Coupé that made its debut in the
Silverstone 6 Hours of late 2008. The car
returned to the dark blue, red and white
livery that graced the car during that race
- it's last as an MG - but gone is the snorkel-shaped
air scoop that stood on the engine cover to
the rear of the cockpit. It its place the
car now displays the rooftop air inlet that
is such a characteristic of the naturally
aspirated installations. There were also
subtle changes to the rear bodywork, in common
with all other Lolas of this type, in keeping
with regulation changes imposed for the 2010
noticeable, but equally significant, was
the move to Dunlop rubber for 2010. RML has
an excellent history of cooperation with Dunlop,
and many of the company's early successes
were achieved on Dunlop rubber. Additional
details are provided by the press announcement here,
while an explanation of the only other new
logo to appear on the team's livery in 2010,
the Vulcan to the Sky Trust emblem, is given here.