Sitting quietly in a corner of the Donington Historic Festival paddock was this rather special little Lola T290 sports car. The evocative ‘Gitanes’ livery drew many an admiring glance from passers-by, but only those who got up-close to it spotted the name ‘Jo Bonnier’ atop the doors…
It turns out the popular Grand Prix-winning Swede drove this very car in 1972, the year he tragically lost his life at Le Mans, and today it’s in the hands of HSCC Martini Trophy competitor Mark Richardson having been driven previously by such notable pilots as Vic Elford, Guy Edwards, and Gerard Larrousse.
‘It lived in Germany for a while, and even raced in some Eastern Bloc countries before it was restored and returned the Bonnier livery’ says Mark of its provenance. ‘I’ve not had it long so I’m still getting to grips with it. I can tell you though that I’ll need to get back in the gym; it’s a very physical car to drive!’
According to Mark the Cosworth BDG motor isn’t the strongest he’s experienced, and he plans to install an FVC next year. With over 300bhp expected from the new power plant, and under 500Kg to lug around, we get the impression that performance should not be an issue for T290 chassis number two.
As well as the popular Martini series, you’ll be able to see Mark campaigning this pretty piece of 2-litre Sports Car history in Classic Endurance and FIA Masters races this year, too.