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Chris Murphy rejoins Lola

AS we suggested in February, former Team Lotus chief designer Chris Murphy has returned to Lola Cars to head the F1 design team. Lola intends to return to Grand Prix racing in 1997, although the project is dependent on money being found. A decision is expected in mid-July and if the go-ahead is given the team will be run by Pacific Racing boss Keith╩Wiggins.

Lola has been out of Grand Prix racing since its disastrous relationship with Scuderia Italia in 1993. An F1 prototype - called the T95/30 was built in 1994 and was shown at the 1995 Paris Racing Car Show. It was tested in England by Allan╩McNish but money could not be found to run a team. Despite this there has been heavy investment at Lola in computer design equipment and composite engineering facilities in preparation for an F1 program.

Thirty-nine year old Murphy is a logical choice for Lola. He first joined Lola from Zakspeed in January 1988 and took over the F1 design team later that year from Ralph Bellamy. At the time Lola had an exclusive agreement with the Larrousse Calmels teams and in 1990 Murphy's Lola design took the team to sixth in the World Championship. Murphy was then head-hunted by Leyton House Racing, which was looking for a replacement for Adrian Newey. The relationship did not work out and in mid-1991 Murphy joined Lotus, staying on until the team closed down at the end of 1994.

Last year Murphy worked as a race engineer for Patrick Racing in Indycars, engineering Scott Pruett to victory at Michigan last July.

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