Monza: RML AD Group race report

RML AD Group Upbeat with Fourth Just as they had in Barcelona a fortnight ago, RML AD Group's Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton came through to finish a strong fourth in today's 2008 Le Mans Series 1000 kilometre race at the Autodromo di Monza in ...

RML AD Group Upbeat with Fourth

Just as they had in Barcelona a fortnight ago, RML AD Group's Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton came through to finish a strong fourth in today's 2008 Le Mans Series 1000 kilometre race at the Autodromo di Monza in Italy. This time they had the added satisfaction of knowing that they had achieved a commendable result on performance alone, and the RML MG Lola EX265 had demonstrated some of the pace that the team always believed it could achieve.

The race weekend had begun with two very challenging and character-building days of practice, headlined by an engine failure within two minutes of the car's debut on track. From that moment onwards the team had been playing catch-up, battling against time to establish an appropriate set-up for the demanding Monza circuit. In characteristic fashion, the experienced crew came through with the goods, and by the time Thomas Erdos headed out for qualifying on Saturday afternoon he was in control of a car that could deliver a competitive time.

The team accepted that the MG EX265 would be unable to match the new and dominant Porsche RS Spyders on pace alone, but with years of experience and a consummate understanding of endurance racing, a good result was still on the cards. With a long race ahead of him Erdos kept out of harm's way during a frenetic first lap and settled into a class seventh. During the course of a determined double-stint, he steadily consolidated his position, moving through as high as fifth on pitstops before handing over to Mike Newton for the mid-race period.

Newton contributed a solid performance that saw the MG hold station on its immediate competitors throughout his time in the car, and he was able to hand back to Erdos for the final hour-and-a-half with the car only slipping back to eighth under the pitstop. Once everyone else had completed that same scheduled stop Erdos started to move back through the field, making up ground almost lap-by-lap, until he'd reached third in class. An horrific accident for Stephane Ortelli in one of the LMP1 Oreca Courage prototypes then brought out an extended safety car period that bunched up the field, and allowed a recovering Jan Lammers in the #27 Horag Porsche to close on the MG. On the restart he was able to exploit the Spyder's outright pace advantage and reclaim the position. Erdos then retained fourth place comfortably to the flag.

"That was another sterling five points," declared a very satisfied Phil Barker, RML's Team Manager. "We had a clear, untroubled run, with no mechanical dramas, and I'm well chuffed. In Barcelona we inherited the position through other people's mistakes and misfortunes. This one was all about performance, preparation and staying out of trouble. The guys did a fantastic job."

Both Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos shared a similar view on the result. Mike's assessment was that RML was "leading the non-Porsche Cup Class," while Erdos said it was like "being first in the second division." Adam Wiseberg, Motorsport Director for AD Group, took up the theme. "We always knew that these new Porsches were going to be difficult to beat, and they are. However, we were much closer to them at the end of this race than we were in Barcelona, and we've just got to keep chipping away. On the basis of the progress we've made this weekend, I believe we can be back on the podium before much longer. All in all it's a super result, and a positive performance."

The next round takes place on May 11th at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Last year RML became the first LMP2 team in Europe to finish on the overall podium, crossing the line third outright and taking a first class win of the season.

-credit: mg-lola.com

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jan Lammers , Stéphane Ortelli , Mike Newton , Thomas Erdos