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. Valencia 1000 Kilometers. May 4th-6th 2007

The highlight of the day was afternoon qualifying, when Thomas Erdos strung together his best lap of the meeting so far to claim second in LMP2, and a very impressive sixth overall, but before all that there was a third session of Free Practice to account for . . . .

Photo by Marcus Potts

Third Free Practice

The final hour-long period started just before ten, although the MG was not among the first to go out. The conditions were bright and sunny, but after a cold night, the track had not yet absorbed much warmth. Even so, a day of extended running on Friday had ripened the surface, and right from the start times were quick. One of those early into his stride was Robin Liddell in the #21 Radical, posting 1:28.606 on his third lap to move fastest in LMP2, fourth overall. The first time to count from Tommy was a modest 1:29.534, although that was still good enough for second. Liddell’s reply was a 1:27.661, countered by a 1:28.395 from Erdos. That took the MG to 7th overall, but still second to Liddell – for the time being anyway.

Photo by Marcus Potts

Third quickest in LMP2 at this early stage was the #44 Kruse Pescarolo on 1:29.705, with the #24 Del Bello fourth, #27 Horag Lola fifth and the Embassy Radical #45 sixth. None was typically placed and suggested that the better times were yet to come. After just a handful of laps, Erdos brought the MG back down the pitlane to hand on to Mike Newton. At the same time, Angel Burgeño was on a quick lap in the ASM Lola, crossing the line to post 1:28.263 and thereby demote Erdos to third in P2. He followed this with a 1:27.425 to head P2 and claim fourth quickest overall. Warren Hughes then clocked 1:28.333 to move the Embassy Radical into fourth, just ahead of Tommy’s earlier time.

Photo by Marcus Potts

Mike was mixing well with the field, and finding space through the traffic. Typically his laps were in the low one-thirties, but he also dipped into the 29s. Several of the quickest LMP2 drivers were still on track, including Burgeño, who posted what seemed at the time to be an impressive 1:26.401 to stand second overall. Pedro Lamy had put the #8 Peugeot on top of LMP1 with a time of 1:26.360, and it was only moments later that Nic Minassian joined him in the second of the two Peugeots.

Photo by Marcus PottsThomas Erdos came back out for the final few minutes, and managed to improve on his earlier lap with a new best of 1:26.990 just before the session ended. That would be good enough for third in class, behind Burgeño (1:26.401) and an on-form Michael Vergers, fastest in class and third overall on 1:26.169.

“The car’s gone a little bit quicker once again,” observed Adam Wiseberg, “but we still have a little more work to do on the set-up.” Mike Newton was happier with his own track-time. “It’s been a much better day for traffic today,” he said “I actually managed to engineer a clear lap! We’re still not quite there with the balance, and the car’s a bit tail-happy, but I feel very comfortable. Tommy is also a lot happier too, and we’re all looking forward to qualifying.”
Back to Top


The twenty-minute prototype qualifying session started at twenty-five past one, although it got off to a very quiet start. The usual queue at the pit exit of drivers eager to get out there and find some clear track was notably absent – so much so that Phil Barker, watching things unfold from the pit wall, radioed Tommy with fresh instructions. “Phil realised that few of the other cars had gone out,” said Tommy. “We thought we might as well take advantage of the empty track.” Normally Phil holds him back for half a lap or so, and then the MG joins in when the bulk of cars have completed half of their out-lap. Not today.

As a result, Tommy was the first to post a meaningful time in LMP2, and while 1:27.247 wasn’t the kind of ultimate pace the team was looking for, it was good enough to top the LMP2 timesheet. Everyone was eagerly watching the timing screen, and on his next lap, Tommy started with two green markers, each signifying a new fastest sector. Sure enough, he lashed across the line with an improvement, clocking 1:26.378 to post his fastest lap so far. The Binnie Lola, Chris Buncombe at the wheel, moved into second with a 1:27.178, while the #24 Courage with Jean-Mac Gounon driving, briefly held fourth on 1:27.569.

Tommy was still flying, and finding more from the MG. Another green marker for the first sector was followed by a second for the next, and . . . “will this be a 25?” asked Mike Newton, peering at the telemetry. It was! The first LMP2 runner to duck under twenty-six, Erdos had managed a 1:25.946, not only confirming Mike’s prediction from moments before, but his own from before the session even started.

That time moved Thomas Erdos through into third overall, but Dutchman Michael Vergers was also gunning for the line in the Barazi Zytek. When his time appeared on the screen it was impressive; 1:25.606 moving the Gulf-liveried Zytek through into a remarkable second overall. Ultimately he’d be demoted to fourth by Hayanari Shimoda in the Arena Motorsport LMP1 Zytek, and the two Peugeots one-two, but it also denied RML its first pole of the year.

Photo by Marcus Potts

When Bob Berridge beached the #19 Chamberlain Synergy Lola in the gravel at Turn Seven, the yellow flags effectively ended everyone’s chances of ending the session quickly, and Tommy returned to the pitlane. The team quickly hauled the car backwards into the garage (above) and the Brazilian clambered out. Disciplined to the end, he kept his helmet on until the chequered flag fell, following the closing action on screen with Mike, Adam and the rest of the team (below). Almost every other car followed suit, and for the last few minutes the two Peugeots were just about the only cars still circulating, although getting nowhere near their earlier times. It was a overt demonstration of their confidence and, when the session did end, Marc Gene had taken pole for the #7, with team-mate Pedro Lamy alongside to share the front row. The pole time was a second clear of third-placed Shimoda’s best in the Zytek.

Photo by Marcus Potts

“I’m very pleased with that,” grinned Adam Wiseberg. “We prefer pole to second, of course, but to be ahead of so many P1 cars on our first run with the new aero kit is very encouraging indeed. I never cease to be impressed by the way Tommy can always pull these stunning laps out of the bag. It will be a nice start to the race to be up there on the third row, surrounded by experienced, dependable drivers. The big question is; what happens with Yoong, Fassler and the other P1 drivers as they all head down into Turn 1!” These drivers, in their LMP1 cars, could indeed be one of the main concerns when the race starts tomorrow at half-past one. The main straight is the only length of Valencia’s four-kilometre circuit where the LMP1 cars can stretch their legs and show something of their outright pace. “That will be a difficult moment,” conceded Phil Barker. “I’d really not be too surprised to see us eighth or ninth into Turn One.”

Photo by Marcus PottsWith qualifying just over, Thomas Erdos had no such worries. “I’m just very happy with the way the team has dialled in the 07 aero pack so quickly,” he admitted. “When you add a new element to the overall package it’s sometimes possible to go the wrong way, but all credit to the team and to Lola, everyone worked together exceptionally well to find such a good balance, and so quickly too. In the end, we extracted what we could out of the car today, and with what we’re learning, we can only build on that and get better.”

Team Manager Phil Barker was equally delighted. “It’s very pleasing to have achieved such a really good balance with the car, and to have been able to come to terms with the new aero kit so quickly. After the experience of Monza, it’s good to feel that we’re in the ball-park once again. It will still be difficult tomorrow, with so many cars on the grid, but very pleasing to be so far towards the front, in amongst the P1 cars. The truth is, Tommy pulled out another very special lap for us today. He did predict to me this morning that he could perhaps do a twenty-five, so I’m delighted that we were able to prove him right.”

One observation not lost on several members of the squad was the fact that the RML MG had qualified as the quickest Lola chassis on the grid, including those running in LMP1. “That’s something for the team to be proud of,” said Erdos. “It’s nice to be the first Lola on the grid!” With two of the LMP1 Lola’s immediately behind him on the grid, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain that advantage when the race starts at half-one on Sunday.

A brief press release about qualifying at Valencia can be viewed here.

Back to Top