The RML MG Lola EX264 took the LMP2 class win in the final round of the Le Mans Endurance Series at Istanbul, Turkey yesterday. Drivers Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton drove an outstanding race in treacherous conditions to take the class win and 2nd place in the LMP2 championship.
Starting the race from the 4th row of the grid and 2nd in class Tommy had a good start and took the opening laps cautiously in the slippery conditions. The first hour of the race saw him trade the LMP2 lead with Guy Smith in the No.39 Chamberlain Lola. Tommy settled into a good pace and at his first scheduled pit stop was running in 2nd place. He rejoined on fresh tyres and maintained his 2nd position for another trouble free stint before handing the car over to Mike.
Mike joined the race and with track conditions not improving he drove well to keep the MG out of trouble in 3rd position. Guy Smith had remained at the wheel of the No.39 Chamberlain Lola for three stints and had managed to open up a 3 lap lead to the MG. Mike pitted at his scheduled stop and rejoined in 3rd position but back on track the decision to double stint his tyres proved troublesome as he lost grip and was forced to pit again for new wet tyres. He rejoined and completed his double stint with the MG retaining its 3rd place.
Another set of fresh wet tyres were fitted and Tommy rejoined the race. With improved grip he immediately began to make up the deficit to the leading LMP2 cars and a consistent drive saw him gain on his rivals lap by lap. The No.39 Chamberlain Lola had the class lead but a mistake from Peter Owen who was now at the wheel saw him in the gravel. He rejoined but had lost his advantage and Tommy stormed through to take the class lead.
The final hour of the race saw Tommy doing a fantastic job of keeping the MG out of trouble as the rain grew heavier. The No.39 Chamberlain Lola was lying in 3rd place and with Tommy in the lead it would have been enough for the RML team to win the LMP2 championship. However the No.27 Horag Lola, running in 2nd place began to experience the same grip problems Mike had during his stint and spun off a number of times in the closing stages. This gave Guy Smith, who was now back at the wheel of the No.39 Chamberlain Lola, enough advantage to take the 2nd place back, a position that would win them the championship. Tommy drove superbly to the flag and took the LMP2 class win but the team could do no more for the championship and had to settle for 2nd place.
RML's Race Operations Director and Team Manager commented "We are really pleased to have the win we have been chasing all year. We had no problems throughout the race with the car and the drivers and team have done a superb job. We are obviously disappointed not to have won the LMP2 championship but are all still really pleased with the result this weekend."