1992 Lola T92/10 chassis HU01 - One of the fastest and most advanced Group C cars of all time - Le Mans and WSC history
Following the success of the Lola-built works Nissan Group C cars in the World Sportscar Championship (WSC) and All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, Lola opted to develop and build their own car for the 1992 season – complying to the 3.5 litre ‘F1’ Group C regulations.
Chief Designer Wiet Huidekoper started with a clean sheet of paper for the T92/10 and following extensive windtunnel development he managed to achieve extraordinarily high down-force figures combined with low drag – the ultimate combination. A very small windscreen area and razor-like frontal area gave the T92/10 this remarkable aerodynamic efficiency. The heavily sculpted sidepods were also a departure from the previous Nissan designs, and the he rear wing would be the twin-element, centre-mounted type, as per the Jaguar XJR14, Peugeot 905, and Toyota TS010. Inside the car, the quality of Lola's carbon manufacturing is clear - the driver surrounded by swathes of beautifully shaped carbon.
Powering the radical T92/10 was Judd’s Formula 1 spec 3.5 litre V10 – known as the GV10. It was an engine good enough for two Grand Prix podiums, and was compact and powerful enough to compete with the factory teams in Group C. The 650bhp V10 would also be known for ever as one of the loudest and most sonorous engines ever to compete at Le Mans.
Chassis HU01 was the first of three examples produced at the Lola factory, destined for the 1992 WSC and the Le Mans 24hr that year. Its buyer was Dutchman Charles Zwolsman and his Euro Racing Team who had seen success with their Spice SE90Cs in 1990 WSC. Zwolsman was a colourful character and encountered a fair few brushes with the law through his business activities, which included smuggling at least 44 tonnes of marijuana across Europe. Despite that, the team was very well funded and a full assault on the 1992 WSC was undertaken. Drivers would be WSC race-winner Jésus Pareja, Ferrari and McLaren F1 star and Le Mans-winner Stefan Johansson, Mercedes works driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, sports car ace Cor Euser, and Zwolsman himself.
HU01s first ever race was Interserie at Mugello as a test more than anything, winning convincingly. Next up was the Monza 500km WSC round, where HU01 and HU02 were a very respectable 5th and 6th in qualifying, retiring from the race with gearbox niggles. 5th and 6th again in qualifying at Silverstone’s British Empire Trophy was not rewarded after a DNF and a disqualification for illegal fuel. The two-car team entered for Le Mans in June certainly turned heads - the howling white Lolas now emblazoned with new Japanese sponsor ‘Chintai Jyutaku News’ were reported to be the loudest car many had ever heard at La Sarthe. As is so common at the cruel 24 hour classic, their potential didn’t come to fruition with only HU02 finishing. Donington WSC would be up next, HU01 again qualifying 5th overall, only to be thwarted by smoking electrics from beneath the dashboard! HU02 would at least come home a strong 4th overall with Frentzen and Phil Andrews. The final WSC race that HU01 would take part in would be the Suzuka 1000km, the team rewarded with a 5th overall. Although the Euro Racing team were entered for the Magny-Cours WSC round in October 1992, complications relating to Mr Zwolsman’s business activities would mean the cars remained in the trucks.
The huge potential of the razor-sharp Lola was never quite realised, but it is certainly a winner in today's historic Group C. The combination of fantastic aerodynamics, beautifully constructed carbon chassis, and powerful, easily serviceable Judd V10, makes the Lola T92/10 the perfect package for the competitive gentlemen driver. The car comes with a good spares package, and would be a winner at any Peter Auto Group C race, and of course the wonderful Le Mans Classic.
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