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Le Mans Series 2006
Round 4. Donington Park 1000 Kilometers. August 26th-27th 2006

Qualifying...Issued August 26th 2006

Five Consecutive Poles for Erdos

Thomas Erdos maintained RML’s unbeaten record by claiming his fifth consecutive LMP2 pole during yesterday’s qualifying for Round 4 of the 2006 Le Mans Series at Donington Park.

On this occasion Erdos had to dig deep in order to find the extra half-second he needed to secure the honour. He had headed out on track in the RML MG Lola EX264 quite early in the session, and set a time on only his second true flying lap that might, under normal circumstances, have been thought sufficient to claim that valuable front-row slot. The screens displayed a best for the #25 MG of 1:21.998, and with almost a second’s advantage over the next challenger in LMP2, he and RML Team Manager Phil Barker felt sufficiently confident in bringing the car back to the pitlane and saving the tyres for the race.

No sooner had Erdos climbed out of the car, however, than Stuart Moseley popped in two quick laps for the #21 Bruichladdich Radical SR9, one bettering the MG by a mere thousandth of a second, and the next by almost two-tenths. There was a brief exchange between Erdos and Barker before the Brazilian was climbing back into the cockpit and the MG was heading out onto the track once more. His very first flying lap was a 1:21.557, almost half a second quicker than his previous best, and generously adequate in terms of reclaiming pole. Job done, Erdos returned to the pits, while Moseley continued to pound round the circuit, unable to improve on second place.

Photo: David Lord

“It was good to get pole again and retain our unbeaten record for the year,” said a hugely satisfied Ray Mallock, team principal at RML. “It was very tight this time. The Radical has been very quick all weekend, but Tommy was able to meet the challenge.” Adam Wiseberg, Motorsport Director for AD Holdings, the team’s principal sponsor, was very impressed by the display from Erdos, and in particular by his ability to refocus on the task. “That was a tremendous effort, and by far the most exciting qualifying we’ve had all season,” he said. “All credit to Tommy. He got out of the car, probably thinking he’d done all that was necessary, and then had to get back in and start all over again. Doing that is one thing, but finding another half second is very impressive. That’s the mark of a truly great driver.”

The driver in question (below) was typically modest, and his concerns were largely for the engineers who make such performances possible. “You have to consider so many issues under circumstances like that. Do I go out and risk the tyres, or do I save them for the race?” said Erdos. “We decided that there was sufficient left in the tyres that it wouldn’t be such a risk, but it was also important for the team. The guys work so hard, and getting pole is one way of rewarding them for their efforts. It proves we have the fastest car, and they’re the ones who’ve built it. I just had to give it a go, for their sake, but that last lap was a bit of a wild ride!”

Photo: David Lord

The team can now look ahead to the six-hour, 1000 kilometer race with some confidence, although practice and qualifying have proved that competition at the top of LMP2 has been growing steadily more intense as the season has developed. “The (works) Radical team has thrown a lot of resources at this round, including drivers,” observed Adam Wiseberg. “We always knew we were going to have to be absolutely perfect to come away with a good result. After that qualifying run from Erdos, everyone in the team’s fired up and ready to go. We’ll just see what’s happened by the time we get to half-six tomorrow afternoon!”

An in-depth report of practice and qualifying has been posted here. You can also view the high-resolution Gallery for images from the weekend at Donington Park.