RML Returns to the Le Mans Podium RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar The RML AD Group Lola HPD, driven by Mike Newton, Thomas Erdos and Andy Wallace, added another Le Mans LMP2 podium to their tally by finishing...
RML Returns to the Le Mans Podium
RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar The RML AD Group Lola HPD, driven by Mike Newton, Thomas Erdos and Andy Wallace, added another Le Mans LMP2 podium to their tally by finishing third in this year's 78th Le Mans 24 Hours. The team won the class in 2005 and 2006, but despite a near perfect run last weekend, couldn't match the outright pace of 2010 winners Strakka Racing.
"This has been a great team effort," said Phil Barker, Team Manager at RML. "It was good to get back on the podium again after a gap of three years. We know what it takes to win at Le Mans, and we also know how it feels to lose. Le Mans is all about the detail - preparation and planning - and having a good team behind you. It's also about thinking on your feet, and adapting quickly to the unexpected. This year, aside from an issue with the dashboard right at the start, the car ran faultlessly all the way. We had a very good set-up, and that made it easy for us to triple-stint the Dunlop tyres. They were still immaculate when they came off, and our technicians even suggested they could have stayed on longer!"
Third was where the car started, and that's where it finished, but in between stood twenty-four hours of drama and thrilling action. Tommy Erdos took the opening stint and held his grid position through a clean and tidy start. He then prepared to chase the two cars ahead of him, but instead found himself battling with a faulty dashboard display that was making driving increasingly challenging. An accident for Nigel Mansell in the Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek gave the team the break they needed, and an unscheduled stop under the safety car had the dash repaired, but left Tommy in a lowly 46th place overall.
On the restart he powered through to 26th inside the first lap, weaving between the slower cars as he fought to catch the LMP2 tail-enders. There he met the stiffer resistance of the other prototypes, but on the hour he'd recovered fifth in LMP2 and 23rd overall. Two hours in and Tommy Erdos claimed fourth, but more critically he was still on the lead lap.
RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Blumlein, Studio 21 Mike Newton drove second stint, dropping just one place on the pitstop before consolidating the position over the next two hours and handing the #25 Lola HPD across to Andy Wallace for a triple stint. Smooth and always consistent, Wallace pressed on to half-eight and the swap with Tommy. The Brazilian then took the difficult stint from dusk through to midnight and a driver-change with Mike Newton.
Through the hours of darkness the Lola remained in contention, repeatedly knocking at the door of fourth. Another triple stint from Thomas Erdos saw the car safely through dawn and into the bright sunshine of a new day, picking up a fastest lap of 3:37.921 along the way.
A double stint from Mike Newton, followed by another triple from Wallace, brought Erdos back into the car with four hours to go. Still running fourth in LMP2, misfortune for the #26 Highcroft HPD rewarded RML AD Group with a first glimpse of a podium finish. With no chance of catching second, the final three stints were driven at a more conservative pace, with Erdos, then Wallace, and finally Mike Newton, taking care to ensure a strong and untroubled journey to the flag. The class win went to Strakka Racing, with Oak second and RML AD Group third, eighth overall.
"I believe this has been a triumph for RML, and even more so than our previous two wins," insisted Thomas Erdos. "When we won in 2005, although less-so in 2006, luck played a big part in the result. This year the class has moved on, and we were up against very strong, equally reliable competition. To finish third against such top quality opposition demanded great skill, planning and commitment, and I believe this has been our finest race. I'm so proud of the team. The car was faultless and it did everything we asked of it."
Andy Wallace, one of the best-known drivers in the sport, was delighted. "You can't buy 24 Hour trophies in the supermarket," he said. "You have to earn them! Having another of these trophies is very special indeed, but we had to fight hard to get there. The whole team performed brilliantly and the car ran like clockwork, but that's not by chance. That's the result of meticulous preparation, with systems and people all working together."
"This is a new package for us, with Lola and HPD, yet we've had three podiums from three races," stated Mike Newton. "Yes, it might have been nice to be on the top step, but we were running a genuine pro-am team and some of the others were always going to have the edge on pace. However, we believed that as long as we were reliable and stayed out of trouble we'd be there at the end. The trouble was, the other teams were reliable too. P2 is a very different category these days, compared to a few years ago. To have five cars in the top ten suggests that the idea P2 should be considered fragile has to be revised."
"We're absolutely over the moon!" said Pauline Norstrom, Motorsport & Marketing Director of AD Group. "That was a good, clean and consistent run from all three drivers. They made no mistakes and kept out of trouble in a race that had more than it's share of challenges, including accidents, punctures, debris and oil on the track, any one of which could have caused us delays or problems. A combination of tremendous skill and excellent communication kept everything together in difficult circumstances."
RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar "In this, our flagship event of the season, we're delighted for the guests of AD Group, who have been so impressed by the team's professionalism, planning and strategy. These are characteristics that we hope they can associate with our own business and our video surveillance technology. I would just like to congratulate the team on their immense commitment and to thank them for delivering such a tremendous result for us."
The team also expressed their appreciation for Strakka Racing's performance. "They ran an excellent race, and it would have been a travesty if they hadn't won," said Tommy. "Nick surprised a lot of people by driving such a good race," added Mike. "He was on the pace, kept out of trouble, and like the whole of his team, he deserves to be congratulated."
The team's next race will be in the Algarve, Portugal, in mid-July.
-source: rml ad group