JULY 8, 1996

Decision time at Lola

LOLA CARS is to decide within the next few days whether it has the financial package it needs to push ahead with its Formula 1 plans in 1997.

Judging by the lack of stories about Lola in the F1 paddock the Huntingdon racing car manufacturer is not going to be in a position to press the green light.

Lola has been out of F1 since it split with Scuderia Italia at the end of 1993 after the disastrous Chesterfield Lola-Ferrari program, but it has a proven track record and showed - with the Larrousse team and Lamborghini V12 engines in the late 1980s - that it can produce good chassis.

Lola certainly has the necessary technical structure to design and build an F1 car, but there are doubts as to whether there is an engine deal in place - although there have been rumors of a unit being financed by the Reynolds Metals Co.

The engineering team is now headed by former Lotus designer Chris Murphy and Pacific Racing boss Keith Wiggins has been busy trying to put together a team structure, but everything is dependent on money. Lola boss Eric Broadley is willing to invest some Lola money in F1, but with the current sums needed in F1 the project will demand a strong commercial backer - and they are very hard to find - even for a company with a proven track record such as Lola.