RML AD Group Back on Form at Silverstone Tommy Erdos, RML AD Group. Silverstone Qualifying. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar The RML AD Group Lola Mazda is once again in contention for class honours in the final race in the 2009 Le Mans Series...
RML AD Group Back on Form at Silverstone
Tommy Erdos, RML AD Group. Silverstone Qualifying. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar The RML AD Group Lola Mazda is once again in contention for class honours in the final race in the 2009 Le Mans Series calendar, after qualifying third for today's Silverstone 1000 Kilometres in the hands of Brazilian Thomas Erdos.
The team has endured a troubled season, with six engine failures in the first four races. A seventh failure in the previous round at the Nurburgring forced the team to rethink its engine strategy, and in the short weeks since then, RML has been working tirelessly in partnership with Mazda and AER to address the issue of reliability.
As was confirmed at a pre-Silverstone seminar staged at the Lola factory in Huntingdon on Wednesday, a solution is being attempted this weekend. "We have a version of the Mazda AER engine that we hope will address the issues we've faced so frequently this season," said Erdos, who felt very positive after running the combination through three trouble-free practice sessions. "The engine is very punchy at the bottom end, and then clean and smooth all the way through to the top. We may not have the outright top-end that some of the others enjoy, but we hope this may give us the reliability we've been lacking so far this year."
Mike Newton, RML AD Group. Silverstone 1000 Kilometres. Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar Part of the solution, albeit a temporary one for this final race of the season, is that the engine is not yet generating its full power. "We may not have the top speed we'd like, but the engine is allowing us to get up there quicker," said Phil Barker, Team Manager at RML. "I am happy to see Tommy qualify third, bearing in mind the reduced power we are currently getting from the engine, and also our need to address minor chassis issues associated with changing the unit. Within that context, this has been a brilliant effort from Tommy."
The RML Lola Mazda had been among an early group of cars to take to the circuit, and was the first to set a representative time in the LMP2 class, Tommy topping the timing screens with his opening flying lap. His second was an improvement, and he then set two more very quick, consistent laps, each within a few tenths of the last, before returning to the pitlane. Two late starting rivals; Olivier Pla in the ASM Quifel Ginetta-Zytek, and Jonny Kane in the Speedy Team Sebah Lola Judd, subsequently went quicker. "I tried to improve, but that was the best I could manage with the engine in the current set-up, but I'm happy with the relative performance," said Tommy. "I'm a little disappointed not to be the top Michelin runner, but maybe that was unrealistic today, but I'm happy that I did the best that I could."
Tommy Erdos, RML AD Group. Silverstone 1000 Kilometres. Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC Mike Newton, co-driver and CEO of AD Group, was encouraged. "We've got a good race car, and that's what truly matters. I was pleased with my own pace in free practice, and Tommy's time in qualifying was exceptional. We know that the pace through traffic is very respectable, and the ultimate pace will be better still. Potentially, I think this is the closest we've been all season, and it's good to be in that zone."
"We're very pleased to see the car up there again where it belongs, near the top of the LMP2 grid," said Pauline Norstrom, Director of Worldwide Marketing at AD Group. "We've had excellent starts to almost every race this season, so what we need now is to convert this one into a representative finish."
The race will start at 11:35 tomorrow, and will last for 195 laps or six hours, whichever is achieved first.