2011 Lola B11/43 - HU04
2011 Lola B11/43 - HU04
- One of five B11-series prototypes constructed, and one of only three configured in open form.
- Delivered new to Level 5 Motorsports in HPD-powered, 2.8 litre V6 Turbo form in early 2011.
- Driven to 1st in class, and 20th place overall, in the 2011 Sebring 12 Hours.
- Driven to 3rd in class, and 10th place overall, in the 2011 6 hours of Imola.
- Completely rebuilt, including full crack testing, by leading Historic race team BBM Sport.
- Fitted with a period correct, zero-hour Judd HK V8 engine and freshly rebuilt Xtrac gearbox.
- Ideally suited to Masters Endurance Legends and HSR events.
In mid-2010, the announcement of a new cost cap for LMP2 cars - taking effect from 2011 onwards - rocked existing chassis manufacturers such as Lola and ORECA; not least due to its timing, just seven months before the start of the new season. However, Lola in particular responded positively with its new B11-series car, which borrowed heavily from its illustrious triple Le Mans Class-winning cousin, the B5/40. Retaining the B5’s carbon-fibre monocoque chassis and employing conventional double wishbone suspension with push-rod actuation, the new Julian Sole-designed car would be available in either open or coupe form, and would accommodate no less than seven different makes of production-based engine in order to meet the new cost parameters. In total, five B11 chassis were constructed, of which three - two B11/83 coupes, and this open B11/43 - were sold to Wisconsin-based American Le Mans Series team Level 5 Motorsports.
This particular chassis, HU04, made its race debut in Level 5’s hands at the 2011 Sebring 12 Hours; then the first round of the American Le Mans Series. Crewed by former ALMS LMP2 Champion Luis Diaz and IndyCar front runner - and subsequent IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner - Ryan Hunter-Reay, the relationship started positively with a commanding LMP2 class win at the notoriously demanding Florida track. Although the LMP2 class mustered just four cars, the pair finished some ten laps ahead of the class pace-setting Oreca-Nissan of the Signatech team; the result providing a welcome boost to team confidence on their collective debut.
Barely a month after Sebring, HU04 was entered in the second round of the Series in Long Beach, where it was to be driven by team boss Scott Tucker and Diaz. However, with just two LMP2 cars entered for the race - HU04 and Level 5’s second B11/83, chassis HU06 - neither opted to set a time in qualifying, thereby saving valuable competitive mileage on both cars. Given the paucity of opposition, HU04 was withdrawn after qualifying with Tucker moving over to the B11/83 for the race alongside team lead driver Christophe Bouchut. Bizarrely, HU06 retired from the race just after half distance, yet IMSA regulations dictated that Level 5 were still awarded the class win and 20 Championship points as a result.
Following a break of almost three months, the team’s next outing was at Imola in July for the historic 6 Ore di Imola. First contested in 1954, the race formed the third round of the European-based Le Mans Series and, in a stark contrast to the ALMS, provided a healthy entry of no less than 13 LMP2 cars. Indeed, such was the competitiveness of the class in qualifying that the entire LMP2 contingent was covered by barely three seconds; HU04 finishing the session sixth in class - and 15th on the grid - in the hands of Bouchut, Tucker and highly experienced Portuguese Prototype specialist Joao Barbosa. In the race, both HU04 and its drivers performed magnificently, taking a well-deserved third in class - and tenth place overall - at the flag, behind the class-winning, Greaves Motorsport-entered Zytek and the Signatech Oreca.
By mid-2011, Level 5 had committed to switching from Lola chassis to the rival HPD design, with two of the latter’s new ARX-01g chassis scheduled for delivery in time for the final two rounds of the ALMS. Consequently, the sixth round of the Championship at Road America would be the final time a Lola would appear in Level 5 colours. Once again, support for LMP2 in the ALMS was woefully lacking - with HU04 the only such car entered - but nevertheless Tucker, Bouchut and the returning Diaz lined up a fine fifth on the grid immediately behind the four LMP1 cars present. The four-hour race proved to be an uneventful if ultimately successful one for the team, HU04 performing faultlessly once again to finish just four laps down on the victorious Lola Aston-Martin DBR1-2 and secure a fine, if unchallenged, class win.
Following the conclusion of the season at Road Atlanta and the 2011 Petit Le Mans, unsurprisingly Level 5 emerged victorious in the LMP2 standings, with Tucker and Bouchut crowned joint class Champions. Furthermore, Level 5 took the LMP2 team championship, with Lola having scored 75 of their 130 cumulative points for the season. In turn, HU04 had scored some 55 of those points by virtue of its class victories at Sebring and Road Atlanta. Significantly, this final ALMS crown - along with their concurrent success in the 2011 Le Mans Series - would prove to be Lola’s last major Championship successes prior to their bankruptcy in 2012.
Retained by Level 5 Motorsports until its disbandment in 2017, HU04 was subsequently acquired by the present owner in who instructed renowned Historic Sports Prototype and GT team BBM Sport of Daventry, UK to carry out a comprehensive rebuild of the car. Given the complexity of its original HPD engine installation - and its availability exclusively on a leased basis - the car was converted to normally aspirated Judd HK V8 power at this juncture; its new BMW M3-based powerplant affording the twin benefits of being both a period Lola LMP2 engine option and eminently cost-effective.
In addition to the new engine installation, BBM Sport crack tested all stressed components prior to reassembly, and replaced any significant “lifed” items such as the fuel cell, fire suppression system and seatbelts. Other items replaced in the interests of enhanced reliability include the ECUs, wiring loom, battery, bellhousing and exhausts, while the car was also fitted with new Ohlins dampers and a fully rebuilt Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with new pneumatic paddleshift mechanism.
Presented in its original Level 5 livery, HU04 is ready for immediate - and exhilarating - track use and would be a highly competitive and relatively cost-effective entry into events such as those organised by the Transatlantic Masters organisation and HSR. Furthermore, its status as both a Sebring class winner and believed to be one of the last chassis manufactured by Lola - indeed, possibly their last open car - renders HU04 a car of tremendous historical significance, and one worthy of due consideration by any serious competition car collector.
Keyword Search Terms:2011 Lola B11/43
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