Excellent Days Testing for RML's MG Lola Ahead of this month's 75th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, AD Group and RML came away from the official test day yesterday, June 3rd, well satisfied with a faultless run of nearly eight hours...
Excellent Days Testing for RML's MG Lola
Ahead of this month's 75th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, AD Group and RML came away from the official test day yesterday, June 3rd, well satisfied with a faultless run of nearly eight hours around the full 13.6 kilometre Sarthe circuit.
In returning to Le Mans for the 2007 24 Hours, the team faces the heightened challenge not only of defending the LMP2 crown that they won last year, but also attempting to record a hat-trick of class wins. To maximize the chances of success the victorious 2006 driver line-up of Mike Newton, Thomas Erdos and Andy Wallace has been recalled to pilot the well-proven MG Lola EX264.
All three drivers enjoyed extended track time during the day's two practice periods, from 9:00am through to 1:00 pm, and then again from 2:00pm through to 6:00pm. Throughout the day the MG consistently ran as one of the quickest cars in LMP2, frequently establishing new fastest laps and trading top honours with the best. Within the team itself there was also the satisfaction of seeing each of the three drivers establish new personal best times for the MG at the Le Mans circuit; Thomas Erdos setting the car's fastest lap with a time of 3:41.025. He achieved this without the benefit of qualifying tyres, yet bettered his 2006 pole by nearly half a second. "I feel confident that we can make a significant improvement on that when we come to qualifying for the race", assured the Brazilian, who saw his only attempt at exploiting the qualifying rubber thwarted by a red flag in the final minutes of the day. "That was very unfortunate", said Phil Barker, Team Manager at RML. "Tommy was already well up on the telemetry, despite catching traffic, and looked set for an excellent time."
Co-driver Mike Newton, the CEO of AD Group, was delighted to record a personal improvement of more than two seconds over his previous best for the circuit. To set this time early in the day, on old tyres, was particular testament to his consistently enhanced performances. Andy Wallace, one of the most highly respected names in sportscar racing and a former outright winner at Le Mans, is more than content with his self-professed status as the team's third driver. "I was third driver for Jaguar in 1988 when we won, he says. "I was third driver again last year, when we won again. Perhaps it's a good omen!" During his stint at the wheel Andy was one of those to set a new fastest lap for the class, confirming his experience and ability. "The MG rides even better than last year," he declared, "and it feels very good to be back with such a professional outfit as RML."
Ray Mallock, founder and Team Principal, had to miss the test as he was overseeing the team's Chevrolet World Touring Car Championship challenge at Pau in the south of France, where Alain Menu recorded another win for RML Chevrolet. Adam Weisberg, Motorsport Director for AD Holdings, the main partner for RML's sportscar programme, was on hand at Le Mans. "It has been an excellent day for us," he stated. "We'd set our targets before we arrived here, and we've met them all. The drivers are very comfortable with the car and the prospects for the race now look very good indeed. It is always tough here, and we knew it was going to be even tougher in LMP2 this year. We weren't here today to break any records. We wanted to concentrate on preparing the best set-up for the race, and we've achieved that."
The team now has ten days to prepare for the race itself, with first qualifying scheduled for the evening of Wednesday June 13th. The race has been brought forward this year from the traditional four o'clock start to begin at three on the afternoon of Saturday June 16th.