RML AD Group Resilient in the Face of Adversity RML AD Group, Nurburgring 1000 kms. Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar It was another deeply disappointing result in Round 4 of the 2009 Le Mans Series for RML AD Group last Sunday at the...
RML AD Group Resilient in the Face of Adversity
RML AD Group, Nurburgring 1000 kms. Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar It was another deeply disappointing result in Round 4 of the 2009 Le Mans Series for RML AD Group last Sunday at the Nurburgring when the team's Lola B08/86 suffered its seventh engine failure of the season. It has become a familiar pill to swallow for the two drivers; Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos, but made all the more bitter by the fact that the car had demonstrated once again that, reliability issues aside, the Lola chassis is a highly potent and competitive package.
Thomas Erdos started the six-hour race from third in class, and swiftly moved through into second place. From there he fought hard to keep on terms with this season's dominant LMP2 car, the Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek, piloted by Olivier Pla. For twenty minutes Tommy continued to take the fight to the leader, but "after a while it became evident that I couldn't maintain that kind of pace," he explained. "I was working my tyres very hard and I became concerned that they might not last for the second stint. I backed off a little, but that allowed the Oak Racing Pescarolo to gain. The team kept me aware of the situation, and I was able to pull away again without any difficulty." From then on he looked after his Michelin tyres and was able to run them successfully for a full two stints, comfortably holding second, and easing out a lead of more than 30 seconds over third.
RML AD Group, Nurburgring 1000 kms. Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar Ninety minutes into the race and Tommy headed for the pitlane and the routine pitstop that would see Mike Newton take over driving duties. The CEO of AD Group returned the Lola Mazda to the track after an exemplary pitstop -- one of the quickest driver change and full service stops of any team in the race -- but the telltale signs of trouble were already there. A small pool of oil was left behind on the tarmac. Mike completed just two timed laps before the severity of the problem became evident from the hazy mist tailing the car. He returned to the garage and the car's retirement.
"The whole team is devastated by yet another non-finish," said Thomas Erdos. "We'd had such a very good start to the race, and were running so strongly. We may not have had the outright pace of the Zytek, but we were a worthy second -- top Lola, top Mazda, and very competitive. Right through to the end of my stint, there was no indication of any issues with the engine at all. It's a very discouraging end to what had been a promising day."
RML AD Group, Nurburgring 1000 kms. Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar "We are all completely exasperated by the engine problems that have tainted this season," said Pauline Norstrom, Director of Worldwide Marketing for AD Group. "The commitment that AD Group and RML have put into the sportscar programme this year has gone totally unrewarded, and the team deserves better. We want to see a return to the kind of success that the iconic number 25 car has achieved so many times in previous years, and if that means a change in engine strategy then so be it."
Nobody was more disappointed by the Nurburgring weekend than Mike Newton, who has repeatedly seen his time on track curtailed by problems. He and the rest of the squad now have three weeks before the final round of the 2009 Le Mans Series season at Silverstone. "We will have to go away from here and give serious consideration to our options for the future," he said. "We may have to adopt a different strategy for the race at Silverstone, but quite what that will be has yet to be decided."