Racing legend John Surtees paid a flying visit to the Lola facility in England, ostensibly to check progress on the company's run of A1 Grand Prix challengers, but managed to find time to mull over his previous relationships with the company's products.

Surtees travelled to Huntingdon in his capacity as chairman of the UK's A1GP franchise, on which he is working closely with 'seat holder' Tony Clements. The British entry was the first to be revealed in the full splendour of its national colours, and Surtees has since been joined by other illustrious names from the world of motorsport as the brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum begins to gather pace.

Surtees, the only man to win world titles on both two and four wheels, will be joined by another man who reached the peak of F1 success, 1980 world champion Alan Jones, who oversees the Australian entry along with esteemed F3 team boss Alan Docking. The Malaysian entry is being headed up by the country's only F1 driver, Alex Yoong, while Portugal has eschewed motorsport connections for the presence of footballing legends Luis Figo and Carlos Queiroz.

Surtees' visit followed hot on the heels of the latest A1GP test, which was conducted over three days at Vallelunga earlier in the week. With the British and South African teams both having been launched, the next unveiling will be that of Team Lebanon, which will take place on 1 December in Beirut. The Lebanese car, replete in its national livery, was given a shakedown run at Silverstone on Wednesday, with British racer Robbie Kerr at the wheel.

A1 duties over, Surtees then took time to revisit some of the machinery in which he achieved motorsport success with Lola.

The two names have been inexorably linked for over 40 years, although Surtees is probably most synonymous with Lola T70, which he took to the inaugural Can-Am title in 1966 with wins at St Jovite, Las Vegas and Riverside. It was that year that he first formed Team Surtees as part of a deal with Lola to promote the T70 in the US.

"The Lola T70 was a good driver's car," Surtees remembered, "You could drive it very hard, and it was great fun. I've always tried to develop a car to where it gives a reasonably consistent message."

As well as sportscars, Surtees also competed in Lola F1 cars throughout the 1960s, firstly in the Bowmaker Racing Lola Mk4 Climax and then the Lola-built Honda RA300, with which he won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix. Team Surtees went on to race in Formula One between 1970 and 1978, running drivers such as Mike Hailwood and Carlos Pace - as well as some Australian 'fella' by the name of Jones....

 

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