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Le Mans Series 2006
Round 1. Istanbul 1000 Kilometers. April 7th-9th 2006
Qualifying. Issued April 8th 2006

Pole for RML in Le Mans Series opener

Thomas Erdos placed the RML MG Lola EX264 comfortably on LMP2 pole for the first round of the 2006 Le Mans Series in Istanbul during Saturday’s twenty-minute qualifying period.

Following an extensive and hugely encouraging endurance test at Paul Ricard in late March, the EX264 had been put through a systematic rebuild. During the three practice sessions that preceded qualifying for the 1000-kilometer race in Turkey the team worked towards perfecting the car’s set-up, and it all came together with flawless timing. “We were steadily tuning-in the package every session,” said Team Manager Phil Barker. “We got on top of everything in time for final practice, and that gave Tommy a nice stable car for qualifying.”

Having been content to run second in class throughout practice, the Brazilian was clearly delighted to be let loose in qualifying and exploit the full potential of the turbocharged AER engine. His first flying lap sent the MG Lola straight to the top of the timing screen, fourth overall. The next two laps were quicker still, peaking with a best of 1:42.336, and with time to spare he was able to cruise into the pitlane to sit out the last five minutes. “This is an excellent start to the ’06 campaign, and a continuation of the very encouraging results we’ve already seen in testing,” said a very satisfied Ray Mallock. “It was a real pleasure to see Tommy putting in a lap time a full second clear of P2, and set himself up to begin tomorrow’s race from the second row of the grid.”

Mike Newton, CEO of AD Group and co-driver of the RML MG Lola with Erdos, was “absolutely delighted!”. Earlier in the day he too had set a personal best for the 5.3 kilometer Istanbul Park circuit, and confirmed RML’s line-up as one of the strongest in the field. “The track is a lot slower than the ultimate pace, but having only three LMP1 cars ahead of us is the perfect way to start the race,” he declared.

Last season Newton and Erdos missed sharing the Le Mans Endurance Series title by a single point, despite winning the season’s final race in Istanbul. This year they have a well-sorted package in the EX264, and look set to begin their assault strongly placed. “It’s good to be on pole for the first race, and the perfect way to begin our relationship with AER,” said Erdos. “We’ve done all we can to prepare well for this season, and this race in particular,” added Ray Mallock. We can now hope that this performance carries through to the 1000 kilometers tomorrow.”