Return to Home Page Click here to discover more about the MG EX264 The latest news from AD Motorsport and RML Race Reports and Galleries Team History and Personnel Driver Profiles Media Information and Log-in Useful Links Team sponsors and how to become one Merchandise and Downloads
Click here to view intro pageClick here to move on to race report

Le Mans Series 2007
Round 2. Monza 1000 Kilometers. April 13th-15th 2007

Race Start Hours 2-3 Hour 4 Hour 5 Finish

Warm Up

Race day began with official warm-up at nine o’clock. Bright, clear skies and strong sunshine quickly lifted the overnight chill, and track conditions were excellent as the first cars started queuing up at the pitlane exit. The RML MG stayed on the airjacks directly outside the team garage, Thomas Erdos strapped into the cockpit, waiting until the lights actually changed to green before the team fitted the pre-warmed tyres.

Photo by Marcus Potts

There has still been no official announcement regarding the exclusion of the Quifel ASM Lola from yesterday’s qualifying results, although the paddock understands that the wooden plank which is fitted to the underside of every car proved to be fractionally thinner than the regulations permit – the result of excessive wear around the Monza circuit, thanks largely to unevenness in the track surface. Evidently with a point to prove, therefore, de Castro was eager to demonstrate the car’s pace once again, and the #40 Lola quickly topped the LMP2 timing screen.

Photos by Marcus Potts

Also showing good pace was Karim Ojeh in the Barazi Epsilon Zytek, but times in general were significantly slower than they had been in qualifying. Tommy’s fifth and final lap was his quickest, at 1:42.435, and brought all three P2 class leaders to within half a second of each other. With that achieved, he pitted the MG and handed over controls to Mike Newton, who completed the final quarter-hour of the thirty-minute session.

Photo by Marcus PottsIn the closing moments de Castro threw in a 1:41, but times set in warm-up are rarely representative, with most teams simply using the brief session to test final adjustments and to assess race set-up. That was certainly the case in the RML garage, where the car ran in full race trim, and once Mike Newton had came back to the garage to complete the session, the team carried out a simulated driver change. Mike climbed out of the car, Erdos settled back in again, and the rest of the crew carried out a full wheel change and refuelling run-through.

It was a slick demonstration (left), and watched with interest by the nearby teams. What the process illustrated all too well is just how cramped the pitlane facilities are at Monza, where the garages are significantly narrower than a car’s length. If adjacent teams arrive simultaneously, then space is at a premium, and it becomes even more vital that pitlane and crew discipline is observed. The organisers have tied to anticipate this by mixing the categories down the pitlane, and if fuel strategies run according to plan, then cars from adjacent garages should rarely arrive at the same time. A safety car period could alter all that, of course.

The MG was hauled back into the garage. “That went exactly to plan,” smiled a satisfied Mike Newton. “The car is very comfortable now, and we’re exactly where we wanted to be. We’re all looking forward to the race now.”

In the meantime, a succession of support races were run, including the Peugeot 207 Cup and the Renault World Series single-seaters.

Photo by Marcus Potts

Photo by Marcus PottsWhile these other events were taking place, the Le Mans Series drivers took part in a combined autograph session, staged in one of the paddock buildings.

Nearly every driver attended, with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos having the newly published 2007 RML HeroCards to sign. Given the opportunity, however, they'll sign almost anything! (That's "Mike Newton" on the left, and "Tommy Erdos" on the right)

Back to Top

Race Start

Photo by David StephensWith conditions more reminiscent of a balmy summer’s day, the forty-six starters for the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series, took up their places on the baked tarmac of Monza’s historic Autodroma. At least three cars would start from the pitlane, following delays and problems arising from the morning warm-up, including the Rollcentre LMP1 Pescarolo and the Pierre Bruneau Pilbeam. Another prototype moved out of sequence for the start was the Quifel ASM Lola, which had been relegated to the back of the grid – from class pole – after the wooden plank that acts as an undertray on all cars was discovered to have worn one millimetre thinner than regulations allow. While the cars took up their positions on the grid, a fuel leak was discovered on the equally speedy Barazi Epsilon Zytek, and it was immediately removed to the garage so that the team could attempt a repair.

Photo by David Stephens

Photo by David StephensThe departure of both the ASM Lola and the Barazi Zytek effectively placed Thomas Erdos on LMP2 pole. The MG Lola had been unbeaten in qualifying throughout 2006, maintaining a clean sheet of poles throughout the Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours . . . but can Monza now be added to the unbroken record? No doubt the statisticians will debate the issue!

In front of one of the best crowds seen at a Le Mans Series race since Spa last year, the massive grid of prototypes and GT cars set off on the 5.7 kilometre parade lap at just before one o’clock. The grandstands through the first and Ascari chicanes, and around the famous Parabolica, were generously packed with spectators, while only the main grandstand opposite the pits looked sparsely populated – that aside, a sign that local advertising had worked. Poster bearing images of the RML MG were dotted all around Milan!

Photo by David Lord

Photo by Marcus PottsAt four minutes past one, the assembled cars finally blasted across the line to start the Monza 1000 kilometers. 173 laps of the track or six hours, whichever came first, and with the pace being shown by the polesetting Peugeots, there seemed every chance that this time the race would go the distance. Those Peugeots pulled away immediately, with only the Cheroz Lola seemingly able to hang on to their elegant tails. A little way back, however, there was the usual mad scramble for the first of Monza’s speed-sapping chicanes. Despite the prospect of several hours racing ahead of them, a fair few drivers were taking no prisoners as they bottlenecked down towards the tightening first corner. One of those peering through a red mist was Stuart Moseley in the Bruichladdich Radical, who elbowed his way alongside Erdos, thumping into the side of the MG at least three times on the run down to the bend. Wise head on shrugging shoulders, Erdos left him to it, and slotted in behind the orange car as they wove their way through the esses (below). “That was a totally unnecessary risk,” said a bewildered Erdos later. “It was completely ridiculous to attempt a move like that right at the start of a six hour race. I really don’t know what he thought he was doing . . . and he’s a friend of mine! He risked both cars, and for what? Nothing!”

Photo by Marcus Potts

Beyond the chicane the track opens out again into the fast run to the Curva Biassono – a fast right-hander – that gathers pace until the second chicane is reached, effectively restricting entry speeds into the challenging two-part Lesmo. By the time the LMP2 leaders reached this point, however, it was already apparent that Moseley had a problem. Inside forty seconds, a connecting hose on the Radical’s turbo had blown, and the car’s race was over. It would manage a second slow lap before retiring. The old adage of “more haste, less speed” comes to mind.

Photo by Marcus PottsWith Moseley gone, Erdos calmly regained the lead, and proceeded to ease away from the Eric van de Poele in the Horag Lola #27. The Embassy Radical, with former RML driver Warren Hughes at the wheel, had started well, and held third for a short while, but was trundling down the pitlane at the end of the first lap with a gear selection problem. This left the Binnie Lola third and the #35 Saulnier Courage fourth, although these two would soon swap places, and thereby establish a top three in LMP2 that bore little resemblance to expectations – save that Thomas Erdos was leading.

The Barazi Epsilon Zytek, with Michael Vergers sitting patiently in the cockpit, would fail to make the one-hour cut. If a car cannot start the race within sixty minutes, it is excluded from the race. Unable to rectify the fuel leak in time, the French car, with its distinctive pastel blue and orange Gulf livery, never emerged from the garage.

Photo by Marcus Potts

With all but one of its principal rivals already encountering difficulties, prospects for the RML MG Lola suddenly started to look far more straightforward. Nearer the back of the field, however, Miguel de Castro in the ASM Lola was making rapid progress through the tail-end, despite his last-place start. In response, Thomas Erdos was not holding back either, and on lap three he set a time of 1:42.268 that would stand unchallenged for the remainder of the race. Establishing a new lap LMP2 record for the Monza circuit demonstrated once again how preparation for the race, rather than just a quick lap in qualifying, is the way to go in endurance motorsport.

Photo by Marcus PottsA quarter of an hour into the race and Tommy’s lead had extended to more than eight seconds, with the Horag Lola second, the Saulnier Courage third, and the Binnie Motorsports Lola falling back in fourth. Right out at the front, the two LMP1 Peugeots had eased clear of the Charouz Lola, but were still circulating as a close-knit pair. Also running better than its practice and qualifying performances might have suggested was the Lavaggi LMP1 prototype (right) – a brave attempt by one man to design and build his own racecar, much against the odds. The car would encounter mechanical difficulties later, but for now at least, was holding its own in good company. Another running well was Joao Barbosa in the Rollcentre Pescarolo, who had moved through to 14th overall from the back of the grid.

Five minutes later and de Castro had battled his way through to fifth in LMP2, although the early loss of so many other cars from the category probably made this an easier task than it might otherwise have been. The Embassy Radical was also back on track, Warren Hughes rejoining immediately ahead of Thomas Erdos, albeit many laps down the order. Tommy powered by on the exit of the first chicane, although Warren would post a very creditable 1:42.537, thereby confirming that, when sorted, the Radical will be a serious contender in the series.

By half-one, Barbosa’s charge in the LMP1 Pescarolo had brought him onto the MG’s tail, and he eased ahead of the LMP2 leader down the main straight, leaving Erdos to enjoy a 17 second lead over the #27 Lola. The ASM Lola’s charge from the back persisted, with de Castro through into third with a pass on the #35 Courage at just gone 1:35pm. His progress had been made easier when the #31 Binnie Lola developed a cooling problem and had to pit for repairs to a radiator hose, while Embassy’s woes persisted; the paddle-shift system sending Hughes back to the garage once again.

Photo by Marcus Potts

All Erdos’s hard work would be for nothing a short while later when Steve Zacchia’s DBR9 Aston Martin lost a wheel going into the Ascari chicane. The car spun wildly, and ended up facing the wrong way in the middle of the track. The organisers had no option but to deploy the safety car, and it took some while for the leader to be collected. In the meantime, the field bunched up, but not before the Binnie Lola had rejoined – conveniently positioned between the Horag and ASM Lolas. It was a clean sweep of front-runners in LMP2 for the Huntingdon manufacturer, and when the green flags were waved at ten-to-two, Tommy was able to pull away somewhat from the Horag car, while de Castro was delayed, if only briefly, by the #31.

Hours 2-3

As the first hour drew to a close, and both Radicals made another brief appearance (the Bruichladdich car for just one lap, the Embassy for a bit longer) Tommy brought the MG down the pitlane for its first scheduled pitstop for fuel and tyres. It was a characteristically slick operation, but any delay at this early stage of a race invariably costs track position, so there was no surprise when the MG emerged to find the ASM Lola leading. Eric van de Poele had also pitted in the Horag Lola, but his stop was not as quick. When de Castro pitted on the following lap, a speedier effort by the Portuguese crew would see the grey and blue car resume just ahead of the Swiss car. The MG still lead, but the ASM Lola was now second with Horag third.

Photo by Marcus PottsThat was how the race stood for the next hour too. The MG steadily regained some of its earlier buffer, Erdos usually posting quicker times than de Castro (left), despite what might have been implied by qualifying and practice, and by half-past the gap had grown to around 12 seconds. At that stage the RML #25 stood ninth overall, leading LMP2, but as the second hour drew to a close, Erdos had moved through to 5th. His advantage over de Castro had grown to an impressive 30 seconds and, just to emphasise the point, the Brazilian then set his fastest first two sectors of the race. Was another record on the cards? No, he was simply gearing up for the in-lap, and seconds later the MG’s AER two-litre turbo was making that distinctive staccato flutter as Erdos brought the car down the pitlane on the rev limiter.

The driver swap and refuel went without a hitch, and Mike Newton rejoined in 8th position overall, second in P2 behind de Castro. When the Quifel ASM Lola pitted two minutes later, and de Castro handed over to Miguel Amaral, Newton regained the class, revealing a thirty-second lead still intact.

It was soon evident that Mike Newton, chief executive of the AD Group and Gentleman Driver, was out to embarrass the competition. Not only had he moved into 6th overall, but he was gaining steadily on Gareth Evans in the #19 Chamberlain Synergy LMP1 Lola in front of him. Behind him, the gap to Amaral in the #40 ASM Lola was extending lap-by-lap, leaving the Horag #27 Lola a distant third. All three were on the same lap, but with Mike consistently setting lap times in the 1:44 or 1:45 bracket, sometimes quicker, depending upon traffic, it was unlikely to stay that way for long. With all the rest typically two seconds a lap slower, the MG clearly had the edge.

This pace from Newton was all the more impressive when it later became known that the MG was suffering from a severe vibration, caused when the brand new tyres had picked up a large chunk of waste rubber on the pitlane exit. For almost quarter of an hour Mike drove with a vibration so brutal that, at one time, he worried that the front suspension might give way. “It was so bad I couldn’t see anything at all in the mirrors,” he said. “It also made it difficult to see the corners or judge braking points, and every time I got over 120 or 140 clicks, it was almost impossible to bear. Mind you, we’d also lost the dash timing, so I really had no idea how fast I was going!”

Within half an hour the gap to Amaral had extended to more than 40 seconds, and Mike was now catching the occasional glimpse of Evans on the track ahead of him. Everything was going smoothly at last, and the vibration had eased as the sticky wrapping of spent rubber had steadily worn away. At 3:42, the MG was back outside the RML garage for Mike’s mid-stint scheduled pitstop (below). Fuel and tyre-change completed, he was swiftly back in the action, having temporarily lost the lead, but still ahead of the Horag car.

Photo by Marcus Potts

The next “significant moment” in the race came five minutes later, when Miguel Amaral brought the Quifel ASM Lola hobbling back to the pits. The left rear wheel was crabbing awkwardly, and what first appeared to be a puncture was soon revealed as rear suspension failure. The Spaniard managed to get the car back to the pits, but this was no quick-fix situation, and the Lola was dragged back into the garage for repairs.

Hour 4

As the race entered its fourth hour Newton’s lead over Didier Theys, now at the wheel of the Horag Lola, had grown to more than a minute. The #35 Saulnier Racing Courage was still holding third in class, but the silver car was two laps down on Theys. There was no obvious sign of the ASM Lola rejoining, as yet, and all the remaining LMP2 runners had either fallen back with troubles, or never really made an impression. At the sharp end of the race, Nic Minassian had styeered the #7 Peugeot 908 into a two-lap lead over Emanuel Collard in the #16 Pescarolo; the second Peugeot having encountered gearbox and cockpit door delays. At 4:05, Mike crossed the line to complete the MG's 100th lap, his lead in LMP2 standing at 1 minute 28 seconds.

Photo by Marcus Potts

In the early days of LMP2, the category earned a reputation for fragility. Highly stressed, turbocharged engines in lightweight chassis, pushed to extremes, tended to break much too easily. By the end of 2006 that perception had changed, and the class was enjoying a revival in fortunes and reputation. However, with 60% of the 2007 Monza 1000 kilometres complete, only two of the ten LMP2 starters were still untroubled; the leading MG EX264, and the chasing Horag Lola. The #35 Courage had just pulled off into the pits - reason unknown – and would remain there for nearly twenty laps. For the time being it was still shown as third in class, but Bill Binnie’s #31 Lola was making a strong recovery after its earlier problems, and would soon catch and overtake the Courage. Confirmation came shortly afterwards that the ASM Lola would not be rejoining either, and elsewhere the Embassy Radical’s woes continued, as Niel Cunningham eased to a halt near Parabolica with a dead engine.

While all seemed to be going according to plan for RML, the first hint of a possible problem for the MG had come with Newton’s previous pitstop. The engine temperature was higher than Team Manager Phil Barker would have liked, and rising. A brief check had revealed no source for the loss of coolant, and the system had been rapidly topped up. Just as Cunningham was coasting to a halt in the Radical, Mike Newton was handing the RML MG back to Thomas Erdos. Once again, the pitstop was swift, with no obvious issues to the casual observer, but once again the coolant level had been replenished. “Mike effectively took over in the lead, and handed the car back in the same position,” said an impressed Adam Wiseberg. “That was an excellent performance.”

The MG was rapidly on circuit once more, but the Horag Lola had moved into the lead as a result of the pitstop, although had yet to make its own scheduled refuel. The Binnie Motorsports Lola, having begun its recovery, was lying fifth in class, but 29th overall. With the stoppages for the #35 Courage and the #40 Lola, Simon Pullan in the Pierre Bruneau Pilbeam had moved through into third position in LMP2, albeit 23rd overall. Having started the race from the pitlane, this was no mean achievement for the French team.

So Theys continued to lead the class, 8th overall, with Thomas Erdos 9th. The gap between the two was holding pretty constant as they traded laptimes through the traffic, with Erdos having the slight edge but only able to nibble away small chunks of the deficit. Like the proverbial swan, despite his pace and fluid line, all was not quite as serene beneath the surface. The on-board telemetry continued to remind both driver and team that the coolant temperature was increasing steadily, but what was of greater concern was the fact that the rate of that rise was escalating. When the problem had first been detected, the car had been able to run for eighteen to twenty laps before it was deemed necessary to call Mike in for a top-up. That interval was narrowing, and was now down to about a dozen laps.

Photo by Marcus Potts

At half-four Thomas Erdos brought the MG back to the garage, and for the first time the covers came off (above). “When the temperature got up to 106, Phil called me back in again. It was undoubtedly the right thing to do.” The radiator ducts were checked for debris, and the system was examined for any sign of a leak. Nothing obvious was found, and after a stop of probably less than two minutes, the engine cover was replaced, the coolant levels were replenished, and Tommy was waved on his way. “We looked, but couldn’t find the leak,” admitted Phil Barker. “We decided to press on, watching the telemetry, and re-filling the system whenever we needed to.”

The extra pitstop had not altered the overall standings, but the gap to the Horag Lola had grown to almost two laps. Even after Didier Theys had made his own pitstop five minutes later, the red and white car was still leading comfortably. Things were less comfortable for Gareth Evans on the #19 Chamberlain Synergy Lola. Having been under threat from Newton only a short time previously, he had come to grief at Parabolica, and buried the yellow Lola in the gravel. “That’s just one of those things that happens when you’re being chased down by a P2 car!” suggested Mike Newton. In fact, it had been a good run from the Chamberlain car, with the Lola rising to third overall under pitstops, but when the car was dragged unceremoniously behind the barriers it was only a matter of time before both #27 Lola and Erdos in the MG would move ahead. At ten to five, that happened, with the LMP2 leaders inheriting 7th and 8th overall as a result.

Hour 5

The gap between Theys and Erdos stood at almost two laps, thanks to the additional pitstop. At just after five o’clock Erdos was back again. The team refueled the MG as normal, and then topped up the coolant levels. It was a quick stop, but the Horag Lola’s advantage extended nonetheless, with the MG having made six stops to the Lola's four. Despite any concerns, Tommy's pace was undiminished, and he remained consistently two or three seconds a lap faster than Theys.

Photo by David Stephens

By five-fifteen it was possible to calculate how much of the race remained. The expected total number of laps was 173. The leader; at that stage Marc Gene in the #7 Peugeot 908, has just completed his 142nd. That left thirty laps of the race left to run at an average pace of around 1 minute 40 seconds per lap, or the equivalent of some 50 minutes' racing. Jean-Christophe Bouillion was lying second in the #16 Pescarolo, just a lap adrift of the leading Peugeot.

In the MG pits, a close eye was being kept on the telemetry. The frequency of necessary pitstops was increasing, and had now dropped to once every eight to ten laps. The next came at 5:18, but with the third-placed car – now the Binnie Lola once again – more than a dozen laps behind, the decision was taken to press on, rather than attempt any repair. “It was very frustrating, but I think it was better to play safe rather than risk the engine,” said Phil Barker. “I was just watching the water temperature all the time.”

Photo by Marcus PottsAlmost any other team in the race would have had to pull their car out of the race if faced by a problem like the one RML was coping with so admirably, and all thanks to forethought and planning. The team has consistently worked on preparing the MG for endurance races, and most significantly, the Le Mans 24 Hours. Built into the engineering of the car are many safeguards and systems whose sole purpose is to ensure that the car can be kept going, come what may. Twin alternators and paired starter-motors are just two of the better-known provisions for reliability, but the team now revealed a third. The engine cooling system on the MG can be replenished in seconds without having to remove the engine cover. The hose from a pressurized canister of coolant can be plugged into a special docking port on the side of the car. A built-in relief valve allows the fluid to be forced into the system under pressure, with excess coolant being rejected as soon as the optimum level is achieved. In a matter of seconds, the entire system can be flushed and refilled, and at Monza this allowed the MG to continue racing with the minimum loss of time.


At 5:31 the #27 Horag Lola made what would be its final pitstop of the race. Just 20 laps remained. Tommy continued to circulate strongly, consistently setting times in the low 1:44s, and occasionally dipping into the forty-threes. By doing so, he was slowly clawing back the deficit on the Horag Lola, but with a full three laps to recover, it was evident that only major problems for the leader could now prevent the Swiss team from securing victory. The Binnie Motorsports Lola, #31, retained third in LMP2, running 23rd overall but 15 laps adrift. At ten to six the Rollcentre Pescarolo pitted from 6th position, and this allowed the untroubled #27 Lola to move ahead. Erdos followed the LMP1 car down the pitlane moments later for the briefest of pauses while the coolant levels were checked and refilled once again, but between whiles his average lap times remained unaffected. With only half a dozen laps remaining, this would be the MG’s final stop.

Photo by David Stephens

Photo by Marcus PottsAt 6:04 the chequered flag fell upon a historic maiden victory for the new Peugeot 908; Marc Gene crossing the line at the end of 173 laps, one lap clear of the #16 Pescarolo. The second Peugeot, #8, had recovered very strongly, thanks largely to Stephane Sarrazin, who had been lapping even quicker than the winning car in his determination to reach the podium. It was an impressive showing from the debutant diesel, and perhaps offers just a hint of the car’s true potential. Perhaps there will be a “race” at Le Mans in June!

In LMP2, the class win went, perhaps a little unexpectedly, to the Swiss Horag Racing squad, their Lola B05/40 running faultlessly throughout. Their achievement was made all the more commendable when it was revealed that the car had been shipped straight from America to Monza, and had only arrived on Thursday, “fresh” from the Sebring 12 Hours in mid-March. Second for the RML MG EX264 was not, perhaps, what the team had hoped for after running so strongly for the first three hours, but a worthy reward for ingenuity and skill. The Binnie Motorsports Lola finished third, despite early problems, to offer Lola a clean-sweep in LMP2, the Saulnier Courage ending the day in fourth.

Photo by Marcus PottsIn GT1, victory went to the #72 Corvette C6R of Luc Alphand Adventures, with the #50 Labre Aston Martin second and the #73 Corvette C5R third. To have both his Corvettes on the podium was some recompense for Luc Alphand’s traumatic Friday, and a fitting reward for a team that worked to hard to rebuild the burnt-out C5R after the chances had looked almost impossible. Top honours in GT2 to the #97 GPC Motorsport Ferrari, with further 430s in second and third, and the #81 LNT Panoz fourth. The Porsches were nowhere at Monza, with the best effort being sixth for the IMSA Performance 997.

After running so strongly throughout the first three hours, the RML team might have been forgiven for feeling disappointed by second at the flag, but in reality, this was an excellent result for the Wellingborough-based outfit. “It was very frustrating to develop the water leak, and that blighted us for the rest of the race,” said Phil Barker. “The high temperatures and fast pace turned this into a race of attrition, and it was there for us to pick up the pieces. Here, our Le Mans preparations paid dividends, and we have the systems to look after the car and get us home. In the end, though, races are won by drivers, and if there are problems, it’s down to the good drivers to work around them. Mike persevered with his vibration long after others would have given up, and he drove through it and out the other side. That’s the sign of a good driver. Then Tommy put in a perfect performance to bring the car safely through to the end. Yes, it was frustrating to have the problem, but very satisfying to have finished second. Compared to this time last year, I’m feeling very much happier! We’ve taken eight points today, and that’s purely down to luck and good preparation.”

Photo by Marcus PottsTommy, interviewed during the post-race press conference, also alluded to the quality of RML’s preparation. “We’re delighted with the result. We knew we faced a lot of competition this year, racing against good drivers and good teams, but we focused on preparation for the race, not qualifying, and it paid off.” After two days of difficult practice, he also looked back on the apparent (but subsequently unsubstantiated) lack of pre-race pace. “If someone had said three or four days ago that we might finish third or fourth, we’d have taken it.” Maybe finishing second was better than many had expected then? “Yes, but we had the pace to beat them all today,” countered Erdos. “We had a really good race car. We were leading, we had the pace, and we had the chance to win. Then we encountered the problem. It was so frustrating! The team managed the issue so well and kept us on the track. There was no point in taking risks, and it paid off. We’ve got points in the bag, and our closest rivals for the title didn’t score any. That’s the perfect start for us, so no complaints. Even so, we genuinely thought we could have won today.”

“Coming away with eight points gives us a valuable buffer,” added Mike Newton. “We hope we can finish on the podium each race, and this start to the year really keeps the championship alive for us – and it’s so much better a start to the season than last year! Maybe we deserved a run of better luck, and perhaps today, we got it.”

Adam Wiseberg, who does so much behind-the-scenes work to keep the race programme going, was over the moon. “I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “Second place in the first race of the new season is a far better start to the year than 2006. We’ll treasure those points. It’s a good job all round, and there’s no point in worrying over what might have happened. The drivers, both of them, did a wonderful job, and without the leak, we’d have won today, but it’s a great start to the season all the same.”

A gallery of high resolution images can be found here. Photography by Marcus Potts. Selected additional photos on this page kindly supplied by David Lord of Dailysportscar and David Stephens of Studio 21.

During the race, "live" reporting was offered on the website, with events being described as soon as they had happened on the track. To view this archive, click here.

Photo by David Stephens