Demonic Deals - The Lamborghini Diablo in Motorsport - Pt. 1
A look into the various racing history of Lamborghini's quintessential 90's supercar.
It is a well known fact that Ferruccio Lamborghini could not care less about entering the the world of motorsports. His main goal when forming Automobili Lamborghini was to build production cars that would wipe the floor with Ferrari's, and any racing would just be a distraction from that. However, Lamborghini was facing a major financial crisis during the late 80's, which would ultimately end in Chrysler buying them. Lamborghini's stance on racing was almost immediately thrown out the door with this purchase, with them building V12s destined for Formula One. However with the demise of Group C, GT racing was becoming a major force in the motorsports once again, and this would happen at the perfect time for Lamborghini to show off their hot new car, the Diablo.
1995 - JLOC Diablo Jota
The first Diablo to hit the track in major capacity would be the Diablo Jota, built by Lamborghini themselves as a homoligation special for GT racing, although this never happened in any major fashion. However, the Japanese Lamborghini Owner's Club (JLOC) requested a special order Jota which featured a modified engine for use in the All Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC), replacing their aging Countach. The car would compete in all but the 2nd round of the 1995 season, with a 16th place finish at the season opening 300 KM Suzuka, a dual best finish of 13th at rounds 3 & 4 at Sendai and Fuji Speedway respectively, and finishing the season with two DNFs at Sugo and Mine.
1996 would see the development of a new Jota by Lamborghini, with 3 "P" specification Jotas which featured aero changes and a wider front track shipped to Japan. The development changes done to the car weren't enough to keep up with the ever-evolving top class of JGTC, now named GT500. The car wouldn't be able to match it's performance in 1995, with the car struggling to even beat the slower GT300 entries, resulting in a season best of 13th in class and 14th overall at Sugo. The car would also participate in the Suzuka 1000KM that year, then a part of the BPR Global GT Championship. The car, entered in the GT1 class, 23rd overall, which was 10 seconds slower than the pole sitting McLaren F1 GTR, and finish 28th overall, 11th in class.
JLOC would roll the car out one last season for 1998, now a secondary car to JLOC's Diablo GT1 they received in 1997. Missing out on a year of development meant the car was now completely hopeless compared to the rest of the field, with 17th in class and 23rd overall at the 2nd Fuji race being the best finish for the car of the season, before being retired at the end of the season.
1995 - Jota GT1 LM
While JLOC was tooling around Japan in their Jota, Lamborghini themselves would make their own run with the Jota at the jewel of endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lamborghini would commission Amos Racing in the UK to build the car, with testing being carried out by the Larousse F1 team, then under contract with Lamborghini. However, the project would be abandoned because of internal disputes at Lamborghini coupled with financial issues at Amos, meaning the car would never see Le Mans. The car would resurface in South Africa, now fitted with an AMG engine.
1996 - Diablo SV-R
Debuted at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show, the Lamborghini Diablo SV-R was the first officially built race car to come from the Lamborghini factory. The car was based on the existing Diablo SV, with multiple changes to the car, including the removal of the pop up headlights in place for either fixed units or intakes in place of them. The cars would be raced in the single-make Diablo Supertrophy, which debuted as support race at the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans. The SV-R would be used in the series up until 1999, and would also make appearance is various national championships, most notably the French FFSA GT Championship in the GT3 class.
The car would soldier on until 2001 in FFSA GT, managing one win in the 1999 round at Nogaro, but that's far from the end of Diablo race cars, stay tuned for part 2.