The Lola T616 Mazda was somewhat underpowered, but it was very reliable.
LOLA T616 Mazda
|BF Goodrich/Busby Racing|
|BF Goodrich wanted a specific car to test its radial tires.
|The car was powered by a 2rotor Wankel given for 1308cm3 displacement.
|BF Goodrich entered two cars in 1984 both in IMSA and WEC.
|The car weighed 700kgs.
Lola was the make from Eric Broadley, who produced numerous racing cars. After creating the T600 chassis, which became very successful in GTP, with Brian Redman taking the 1981 crown, Lola produced a new chassis, which was a honeycomb design : the T610. The striking design was though unsuccessful with the use of unadapted powerplant. The next chassis was a development of the T610. It was the T616. BF Goodrich wanted a suitable car using the tiny Mazda rotary engine, in order to advertise their range of Road radial tires. Four chassis were built, three of which went to Jim Busby Racing, who ran them successfully both in IMSA and in the WEC championships. The fourth one went to Matty Holzberg, who used the Polimotor plastic engine.
The team was formed in 1983 when BF Goodrich was convinced they had a great tire in their high performance radial T/A. They had won IMSA GTU races with the tire, but not races that caught widespread attention. So they conceived a bold marketing plan: create a racing team to run BF Goodrich street radials at Le Mans and win a world championship.
The Lola T616 Mazda racecars made motorsports history in 1984 when the BF Goodrich Mazda Jim Busby racing team scored the first 24 Hours of Le Mans class win for a Japanese manufacturer. In a classic "David vs. Goliath" match up, two lightweight, rotary powered Lolas outlasted competitors to come home 1st and 3rd in the C2 group. Car 68, driven by Americans John Morton and John O'Steen, with Japanese driver Yoshami Katayama, took first in class, while the 67 car piloted by Americans Jim Busby and Rick Knoop, as well as Dutchman Boy Hayje, placed third in class.
Throughout 1984, the T616 Lola Mazdas enjoyed success at the world's greatest racetracks, including the class win and a 3rd at Le Mans, another victory for car 67 at the Monza 1000km in Italy, and podium finishes at the Nurbürgring 1000km and at Fuji in Japan. Had the cars been flown to Adelaide, Australia for the last race of the year, simply qualifying would have guaranteed the sports car world championship! The race winning Lola Mazda Busby team combined reliability, innovation and tenacity to win at Le Mans and score podium appearances and points worldwide.