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Lola Relaunches Motorsport Presence With Yamaha Tie-up

Lola eyes future in hydrogen, sustainable fuels motorsport after announcing Formula E effort for 2025…

Photo: Yamaha

Famed British racing car constructor Lola has relaunched its presence in international motorsport via with a tie-up with Japanese manufacturer Yamaha to enter Formula E, which could be the first step towards a return to sports car racing.

The alliance between Lola and Yamaha was announced in a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Formula E event in the city.

Lola’s foray into Formula E powertrain supply to an as-yet unconfirmed team marks the firm’s major motorsport activity since it was acquired by American racer Till Bechtolsheimer in 2022, while Yamaha is re-entering four-wheeled racing for the first time since the end of its Formula 1 engine project in 1997.

Respected ex-F1 and Formula E engineer Mark Preston is heading up the project, and said Lola views its Formula E entry as a first step to re-establish itself in global motorsport, which could include a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Lola machinery was last seen on the grid at Le Mans in 2013, the year after the previous Martin Birrane-owned iteration of the company ceased trading.

“I started working with Lola over a year ago, and I’ve been working with Till on what the future of motorsport looks like,” Preston told Sportscar365. “He came up with the pillars of electrification, hydrogen and sustainable fuels and materials.

“This is the first part of the strategy, and this Formula E powertrain will form the basis of other things we can do in the future. Till is quite interested in racing Le Mans with hydrogen power, so we hope this can be the basis for everything.”

Preston explained Lola’s main focus on the Formula E project will be the software, with Yamaha taking the lead on the electric motor and inverter technology.

“Software is the key to everything in modern motorsport, and although the front powertrain is spec, we still have to control both ends [of the car], and so we’re quite excited that the four-wheel drivetrain can be used in other series,” he said.

“We hope this is just the start, and that as Lola we can look at entering other racing series following this.”

Asked specifically about the feasibility of a Lola Le Mans hydrogen project, Preston said that tying up with another OEM that has a desire to race at La Sarthe using the new technology would likely be the key to any such plans.

“If you look at Lola’s history, we’ve always partnered with other manufacturers,” he said. “Lola doesn’t make road cars, and probably never will, so we’ll always be a partner to an OEM in other series.

“There are already four chassis builders in LMDh, so we would only be able to do LMH or other classes, unless that changes in future. It depends on the length of the homologations, so we’ll be waiting for some opportunities there.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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