D1 Biodiesel Lola to Race at LeMans
p;A biodiesel-powered Lola B2K has been entered in the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours.
It will race alongside the diesel-powered Audi R10, though the Lola will run on a blend of diesel and vegetable oil synthesised from the jatropha curcas tree, which grows in south-east Asia and Africa. The fuel for the race has been developed by D1 Oils, a London-based company which will sponsor the Lola team and groupBio. The engine is a modified version of the Volkswagen Touareg's V10, which is currently undergoing safety testing in Maldon, Essex.
The D1 Lola B2K is only capable of 200mph, some 15mph slower than its petrol-powered competitors, but Lola hopes that, as it will need fewer pit stops to refuel, it could be quick overall. A similar outcome was experienced in 2004, with a previous diesel-engined contender, the wonderfully-named Lola-Caterpillar which also used the Volkswagen V10, though this failed to finish the full 24 hours.
D1 is currently testing diesel fuels with blends of 5%, 20% and 50% biofuel, and different types of biofuel from different sources. The jatropha oil is said to have an advantage over rapeseed oil, soy or palm oils in that jatropha trees don't need to be grown on arable land - they will grow on wasteland and thus not take up vital food-producing land in developing nations.
D1 CEO Phillip Wood said: "This is about demonstrating that low emissions don't mean low performance. We are entering a biodiesel car for Le Mans prototype racing because endurance events offer the best opportunity to test and improve the characteristics of this new green fuel. What we learn about how different biodiesel blends perform in our engine is going to be of immense value to biodiesel feedstock producers and refiners, to car and engine manufacturers and to motorists who want to know that biodiesel will get them the mileage and performance they need while contributing less to global warming. It also offers a strong opportunity to build the D1 brand as we expand our planting and refining business globally."
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Enterprise purchased five Jeep Liberties outfitted with standard diesel engines that require no modifications to run on biodiesel, which it keeps filled with B20 biodiesel.
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