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Le Mans Series 2006
Round 3. Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers. July 15th-16th 2006

Qualifying. Issued July 15th 2006

Erdos Claims Fourth Consecutive Pole for RML

Thomas Erdos came through qualifying this afternoon at the Nürburgring in Germany to claim his fourth pole position on the trot aboard the RML MG Lola EX264. Adding to his class poles in the first two rounds of the Le Mans Series, and the dominant performance he gave in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours last month, this fourth front-row slot comes as some reward for the continuing hard work being put into the car’s development by the RML team.

With the Le Mans Series weekend being compressed into two days, Saturday saw two practice sessions of an hour-and-a-half each, followed by a twenty-minute qualifying period. Erdos topped the times for the LMP2 category on each occasion, causing some consternation during the second free-practice period by setting second-fastest time overall. “We came here with a chassis that was already very well sorted,” explained team principal Ray Mallock. “In addition, we’ve also made some fresh changes to the suspension for this weekend, and they’ve clearly worked. As we do with any project, we’re moving forwards all the time, constantly developing and improving the package.”

Qualifying for Round 3 came towards the end of a busy day around the impressive German circuit, and followed on immediately after a twenty-five minute saloon car race. As a result the track conditions had deteriorated somewhat, and Erdos was unable to match exactly his previous pace, but an early flying lap of 1:46.672 was sufficient to set the MG almost two seconds clear of its nearest rival in the class, and allow the team to call the Brazilian back into the pitlane to sit out the final minutes in the shade. “The car had a bit of oversteer, compared to the last practice session, but I think that could have been down to the track,” said Erdos afterwards. “We made a few changes to address that, but decided not to go back out again and save the tyres for the race instead.” The cars must start the race on the same tyres they use in qualifying, and good grip from fresh rubber during the early laps can be vital.

Mike Newton (right) will partner Erdos in the six-hour race on Sunday, the two drivers taking it in turns to pilot the MG EX264 around the five-kilometer circuit. “Tommy always does an excellent job, and he’s dominated the class once again,” said a delighted Newton. “The steady programme of improvements we’ve been implementing during the course of this season is clearly showing its worth, but looking after the car will be critical tomorrow. It’s going to be a long, hot, dry race.” The competition is growing increasingly close in the LMP2 category, with new cars entering the championship, and others also demonstrating improved performance. “It’s great to achieve pole here at the Nürburgring,” admitted Erdos, “but it will be a tough race. There are so many cars here on very similar times, but if we can stay out of trouble, I’m confident we can do well. The car is working beautifully, and with our on-going development, we’re managing to keep just ahead of the rest. I believe we have a good chance.”

After being the innocent party in a start line shunt in round one, and suffering an untimely puncture in round two, the team currently lies second in the championship. On pace and performance, the RML MG Lola should perhaps have won both those first two races, but Round 3 is their chance to set the record straight.

View high-resolution Gallery for images from Saturday at Nurburgring