Mans Series 2007
Round 3. Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers. June 29th - July 1st
morning’s twenty-minute warm-up started at 08:30,
beneath grey clouds but across a dry track. RML took a habitual
view to the occasion, using it simply as an opportunity
to bed in brakes, scrub in some tyres, and give their two
drivers some track-time and pitstop practice.
was first out in the MG, taking up a position in the queue
that offered an interesting comparison between the four
classes in the Le Mans Series (see below). To his left,
one of the leading GT1 contenders. To his right, one of
the Felbermeyr Porsches, while on the inside, the #8 Peugeot
completed three quick laps. His quickest was timed at 1:48.563,
and confirmed later as fastest in LMP2 by roughly two seconds
over the ASM Lola.
Horag Lola showed a relatively quick time after a less flattering
qualifying session yesterday, and 1:50.891 being good enough
for third.Half-way through, Erdos came trundling back down
the pitlane to the garage, where Mike Newton was waiting
to take his place. The drivers swapped positions, Jason
helping with the belts, while the car was refuelled. With
the hoses withdrawn and Jakey’s whistle blown, the
tyres were quickly changed, allowing Mike a quick exit.
just under ten minutes remaining, Mike had time for a further
four laps before the chequered flag, and then the team repeated
the driver-change and pitstop exercise, simply for the experience
of doing so. A brief glance at his stopwatch, and an almost
imperceptible nod, confirmed that, once again, the RML guys
were on top form. Speed in the pitlane is every bit as important
as pace on track. Overtaking a car on the circuit can be
difficult, at the best of times, but save fine seconds in
the pitlane, and that’s a position gained without
been putting down a few markers,” declared Mike Newton,
having done a series of one fifty-twos. “If that’s
the kind of pace Mike can maintain through the race, we’re
in good shape,” said Erdos. The “markers”,
on the other hand, were to establish some kind of pecking
order when it came to holding lines and making presence
felt against some of the more aggressive GT1 drivers. “If
they learn at an early stage that I won’t give way,
and I will hold my line, then we’ll have less trouble
in the race,” was his theory.
problem comes when the LMP2 cars meet a GT1 car on the straight.
The Astons and Corvettes are every bit as quick as the MG,
or most of the other LMP2 prototypes, along the straights,
but can’t keep up with them through the corners. That
can make it difficult for P2 drivers to pass the GT1 leaders
except by leaving their braking later, and then holding
a strong line through the twisty bits. With his point made
– quite forcibly on a couple of occasions, Mike was
now looking forward to the race.
quick de-brief with Phil Barker, followed by a chance to
meet up with some of the AD Group guests in the Smoking
Dog hospitality, and then Mike and Tommy were off to the
ACO scrutineering truck just outside Race Control. There
they joined virtually all the other Le Mans Series drivers
to take part in the official “Autograph Session”.
of spectators of all ages filed along the extended line
of desks to have posters, programmes and, in the case of
RML, the team’s exclusive A4 HeroCards, signed by
the drivers. Between them, Mike and Tommy autographed nearly
500 cards, and were quite relived to get away for an early
lunch shortly before eleven.
then the hectic schedule had already seen the main straight
cleared and the number girls start to take up their positions
on the grid. Not long afterwards, the first cars started
to make their way round to their positions. The MG EX264
was among that leading group, and by half-past, the grid
was almost full. The Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres was about
Start and First Hour
started at 11:57
Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres was supposed to begin at the
slightly strange time of 11:55. In the end, it was a minute
or two late, but it was a clean and relatively trouble-free
start, although Tommy's opening lap was made a little easier
by another poor start from the #32 Barazi Zytek. This time
the car's owner Juan Barazi himself was at the wheel, and
slipped a handful of positions even before Turn One. That
allowed Stuart Moseley through onto the MG's tail, and as
they streamed through the Mercedes Arena complex, that was
how the first few corners panned out.
the end of lap one (right), Tommy had a few yards
on Moseley, with the Rollcentre Pescarolo running third
in this hard-fought mini-battle. Barazi had lost about half-a-dozen
places, and had slotted in behind the #40 ASM Lola.
the course of the next few laps, Tommy extended his lead
steadily in LMP2, with Barbosa in the Pescarolo taking Moseley
into Turn One at the start on the third lap, and then starting
to close on the MG. As a pair, however, they were pretty
evenly matched, and the gap to Moseley increased steadily
behind them. Out at the very front, the two Peugeot 908s
were romping away into the distance, and within five minutes
were already well in among the tail-enders.
duel between Tommy and Barbosa in the LMP1 Pescarolo wasn't
exactly balanced, but the Brazilian managed to fend off
the Portuguese for four or five laps. Once he was reassured
that his lead over the chasing Radical was more than seven
seconds, he was happy to ease to one side and let the prototype
through. It was ten-past twelve.
the next ten minutes or so the race within LMP2 stood relatively
balanced, with Erdos easing away relentlessly from Moseley
in the Radical. The Bruichladdich driver may have been distracted
somewhat by the on-going challenge behind him from Bob Berridge
in the #19 Chamberlain Synergy LMP1 Lola, and at 12:25 the
yellow car finally found the opening and swept through.
Tommy leads LMP2 by almost 15 seconds, but is under challenge
for position from the #17 LMP1 Pescarolo. It isn't slowing
him down, however, and he is pulling away from Moseley in
the Radical at a rate of one, or sometimes two seconds each
lap. The battle for second, however, is hotting up, with
de Castro closing steadily on the orange Radical.
The MG leads LMP2 by 20 seconds. A little further back,
Warren Hughes is making life difficult for Juan Barazi in
the #32 Zytek, and the two are nose-to-tail through the
Mercedes Arena section, although the Zytek seems quicker
on the less-twisty sections. The #83 Ferrari (Johnny Mowlem)
pulls off in the Mercedes Arena, the first confirmed retirement.
Tommy's lead has extended further, and he's now 29 seconds
ahead of Moseley, who has de Castro right on his tail in
the ASM machine. Such is the MG's pace, however, that Thomas
Erdos laps the Binnie Lola at 12:50 - a sweet moment, perhaps,
after losing the LMP2 Le Mans crown to the blue Lola just
two week ago.
Tommy heads into the pitlane for the first scheduled pitstop.
He's been complaining about a touch of oversteer, but Phil
tells him that "if you think you're struggling, you
should see the others!" Stuart Moseley continues, and
takes the lead, but the ASM Lola also makes for the pits.
Tommy is stationary for less then a minute, and is swiftly
back into the race.
Warren Hughes finally gets ahead of Juan Barazi, and thereby
moves forwards into fourth place in LMP2. Moseley then makes
his first pitstop in the Bruichladdich Radical, but emerges
once again behind de Castro in the ASM Lola, so has lost
class second on the exchange.
Waren Hughes, now fourth in the Embassy Radical, is pulling
clear of Barazi. Tommy has concerns about trailing bodywork
from the #83 Chad Racing GT2 Panoz. The car pits on the
next lap for repairs.
The confusion caused by the varying pitstops has finally
unravelled, and it has become clear that RML's efficient
crew has found several extra seconds, thanks wholly to their
speedy work in the pitlane. Tommy now has a lead of 46 seconds
over de Castro, now second in the #4 Lola. Moseley holds
The lead continues to lengthen minute by minute. At five-past
it was 46 seconds. By quarter-past it was 54 seconds, with
Moseley right behind de Castro, and 17 seconds ahead of
Tommy reports an accident at the Ford Hairpin between the
LMP1 Creation #9 and one of the GT cars. He anticipates
a safety car, but the marshals get the cars cleared away
quickly, and it proves unnecessary. The margin over de Castro
has extended to 65 seconds. The MG lies 9th overall.
Thomas Erdos is just over half-way through his second stint
and leads LMP2 by 68 seconds from Miguel de Castro in the
#40 Quifel ASM Lola, with Stuart Moseley third in the Bruichladdich
Radical and Warren Hughes an excellent fourth in the similar
Embassy Racing SR9.
leads overall, with the #8 car (Pedro Lamy at the wheel)
heading Nic Minassian in the #7 by one lap. Third is the
#13 Courage (Gounon) and Cochet fourth in the #12 car. Ortelli
leads GT1 in the #55 Oreca Saleen, while taking the honours
(for now) in GT2 is the #96 Ferrari of Rob Bell.
lead continues to grow steadily, and the MG is now 77 seconds
clear of second-placed Miguel de Castro. The #7 Peugeot
has been back into the garage again, with a repeat of whatever
problem has already cost it a lap on the leader.
With several of the LMP1 cars already into their next series
of pitstops, the MG has started to move up the overall order,
and now stands 6th. Tommy's advantage over de Castro has
also extended, and now stands at 79 seconds.
ASM Lola occupies 10th overall, and spearheads a strong
mid-field showing from the LMP2 field, with Moseley 11th,
Hughes 12th and Didier Theys in the Horag Lola 14th, sandwiching
the #10 Arena Zytek LMP1, with Tom Chilton in charge.
Tommy prepares for his in-lap, and
to hand over to Mike Newton, with the advice that he'll
be fine, provided he stays on the clean line. After his
training session on Friday, he shouldn't find that too much
of a problem.
Tommy into the pitlane from a very impressive third overall.
The driver-change and refuel is covered live on television,
and goes smoothly, with Newton quickly back out on track
without a hitch. De Castro pits on the next lap, handing
over to Miguel Amaral. It will take a few laps for the situation
to become clear, but the MG appears to have rejoined in
6th position overall, still leading LMP2. At Magny Cours,
the Formula 1 grid is just forming up in preparation for
the start of the French Grand Prix.
the race enters its third hour, the RML MG Lola EX264 retains
a strong hold on the LMP2 lead, currently 7th overall, from
Stuart Moseley, who has yet to make his second pitstop.
The #40 ASM Lola lies third.
Moseley pits the Bruichladdich Radical #21 from second in
LMP2. The car instantly drops four or five places down the
order. The Rollcentre Pescarolo has been pulled back into
the garage for repairs . . . and so too has the Radical.
The orange and yellow engine cover has been removed and
the car eased backwards into the garage.
Confirmation over the radio to Mike that he has a lead of
96 seconds over Amaral, now back up to second in the ASM
Lola #40. The Bruichladdich car remains in the box, and
has dropped to 16th overall. Mike Newton's pace is impressive,
and he is currently one of the quickest drivers in LMP2,
by a significant amount, although Amaral is matching the
MG's speed lap for lap.
Mike is adding roughly a second onto the MG's lead with
every lap, and has Amaral about 18 seconds in front of him
on the track, although nearly a lap in arrears on the timing
screens. The Bruichladdich Radical remains in the garage,
and has fallen to 26th overall, and will soon be passed
by the leading GT2 cars, headed by Rob Bell, still in the
Virgo Motorsport Ferrari 430.
An unscheduled pitstop for Amaral in the #40 Lola lets Neil
Cunningham, driving second stint in the Embassy Racing Radical
through into second place in LMP2. It was a brief stop -
reason unknown - and the Lola is soon back in the action,
but right on Cunningham's tail.
The battle for second in LMP2 is developing into a close-fought
needle-match, with the blue Lola all over the rear wing
of the Kiwi's Radical.
Mike is having a challenging time getting through the traffic,
and he is being partnered by the Kruse Courage at the moment,
both cars finding it difficult to get through the GT1 leaders
- the fourth-placed #50 Aston Martin eventually succumbing
to the pressure and spinning out directly in front of them.
Neil Cunningham, meanwhile, appears to have managed to eke
out a small advantage over Amaral.
The RML MG Lola's lead in LMP2 has stabilised at around
the 75 second mark, although in the overall standings the
two are eighth and ninth. The leading GT1 Oreca Saleen is
coasting smokily around the circuit - not easy to determine
if that is engine or tyres. Confirm, it's a rear left puncture,
and the car makes it back to the pitlane for a replacement.
The #85 Spyker GT2 has stopped beside Turn One, the driver,
Jarek Janis, is out, and the car is well ablaze. The marshals
have rushed to douse the flames. The engine let-go down
the main pit-straight. The car was lying ninth in GT2.
Mike's lead is now 51 seconds, although it's unclear where
the MG has lost the time, as Mike has been lapping very
close to Cuningham's best. Overall, the #8 Peugeot now enjoys
a lead of almost two laps over the sister-car, with Moreau
third in the #13 Courage. Ojeh has just taken over the #32
Barazi Zytek, and the Gulf-coloured car is now 12th overall,
fourth in LMP2. The #55 Oreca Saleen lost the GT1 lead as
a result of the puncture, and the #59 Team Modena Aston
Martin DB9R but now heads the class. The #96 Virgo Ferrari
430 continues to lead GT2, now with Allan Simonsen at the
wheel, with the #77 Felbermayr Porsche second.
#21 Bruichladdich Radical is racing again, but lost about
15 laps with a starternator problem. The Embassy car pits
for fuel, but Cunningham stays in the car. Amaral moves
through into second in class.
Mike heads down the pitlane for his first scheduled pitstop
for fuel. The MG pits from 7th overall, leading P2. Almost
simultaneously, Amaral brings the ASM Lola in for fuel as
The pitstop situation has finally unravelled, and it is
now clear that Mike retained his lead comfortably during
the process, and is now 58 seconds ahead of Amaral, who
moved ahead of Cunningham during the stops.
The situation in LMP2 has settled down into a steady rhythm.
Mike Newton leads the class by half a lap from Miguel Amaral
in the ASM Lola, with Neil Cunningham third in the Embassy
Radical #45. Karim Ojeh holds fourth for Barazi Epsilon.
The four cars are ninth through twelfth overall. The #19
Chamberlain Lola has spun off and Peter Owen appears unable
to re-start the car.
Owen finally gets the #19 back on track. Mike's lead over
Amaral in the #40 Lola is 47 seconds. The two Radicals are
circulating as a duet, although there's about fifteen laps
between them. Cunningham is just ahead on the rack, and
holding third in class.
The margin on Amaral has slackened to just 43 seconds, but
the greater concern is actually the #32 Zytek. Although
only fourth in class, the Barazi team has yet to let Michael
Vergers, their fastest driver, loose in the car, and he
may be able to make up ground when his stint begins shortly.
A series of much quicker laps from Mike Newton has stabilised
the situation, at least with regard to Amaral in the ASM
Lola. The gap there remains a healthy 41 seconds.
Karim Ojeh pits in the #32 Zytek, and hands over to Michael
Vergers. The Dutchman promptly does the car's fastest last
two sectors on his out-lap.
Vergers marks the beginning of the fifth hour with a new
fastest lap for the #32 Zytek; 1:50.562.
Mike pits from the LMP2 lead and hands over the MG to Thomas
Erdos. It's another great pitstop - quick, efficient and
without drama. Moments later, matters are very different
when Neil Cunningham brings in the #45 Radical, and hands
back to Warren Hughes. No sooner is Hughes into the cockpit
than there's a flash fire from under the engine cover. The
pitlane marshals appear to have it quickly under control,
and Warren doesn't even bother to get out of the car. It
stays on the apron while the team endeavour to find the
cause. Moments later, the Radical is passed fit for purpose
and Warren heads back out again.
delay has allowed Vergers an easy passage through to third.
Amaral has also pitted in the meanwhile, and handed over
the ASM Lola to Angel Burgueno. The #40 is now second again,
but by only two seconds from Vergers. Both are roughly 50
seconds behind Tommy.
Cochet in the #12 Courage, running a very respectable sixth
overall, careers backwards into the tyre wall on the far
side of the circuit. There's heavy damage, but he gets it
going again, and brings it crabwise back to the pits. A
lengthy repair is in prospect.
moves ahead of Burgueno into class second, tenth overall.
The gap between the Zytek and Thomas Erdos in the MG is
now 49 seconds.
all this drama, the Horag Lola #27 has pursued an untroubled
path through to fourth in LMP2, 13th overall, and Eric van
de Poele is setting good times in the red and white car
to fend off Hughes in the black Radical. All look likely
to pass Cochet in the stricken Courage, which is sliding
relentlessly down the timing screen.
Confirmation comes that Tommy is redressing the balance
on Vergers, and has extended the gap to plus 53 seconds.
His current pace is almost two seconds a lap faster than
the Zytek, although it does fluctuate with traffic.
it is worth mentioning at this stage that the weather has
cleared during the course of the race to such an extent
that the track is now considered "hot". The skies
are largely blue, and while a smattering of cloud remains,
the immediate threat of rain, which seemed imminent at midday,
has now passed.
A quick round-up reveals the #8 Peugeot still leading from
the #7 by two laps, with the #16 Pescarolo (currently Emanuel
Collard in the cockpit) third, but two laps behind. Fourth
is Jean-Marc Gounon in the #13 Courage, with Creation fifth,
the Charouz Lola sixth. Tommy is then seventh in the leading
LMP2 MG, followed some fifty seconds later by Vergers and
GT1, the tables have turned once again, and pace "will
out" in the form of Stephan Ortelli in the Oreca Saleen,
a lap clear of the Modena DB9, and then the first of the
Corvettes, the #72 Luc Alphand car. The faultless run from
Virgo continues in GT2, with the Bell/Simonsen Ferrari heading
the pack from the #77 Porsche.
Tommy completes the MG's 143rd lap.
The race appears to have settled down into a routine, and
there are few significant changes taking place - certainly
within LMP2. Tommy continues to enjoy a lead of roughly
forty-five to fifty seconds over Michael Vergers, although
Burgueno is falling back behind the Zytek. They have all
passed the Arena LMP1 Zytek, although what has caused the
#10 to slip back this way is unclear, as the car's pace
with Shimoda at the wheel seems perfectly respectable now.
The #27 Lola has maintained its stealth-like progress, with
van de Poele easing away from Warren Hughes, Embassy's effort
now seeming to have overcome its moment of drama.
little further back. Chris Buncombe is now in the Binnie
Lola, and setting the car's best pace of the race so far,
although fifty-three's aren't class-leading lap times. The
#31 is fifteenth overall, seventh in MP2, just behind the
#35 Saulnier Courage - another unspectacular yet competent
run from the silver car.
Vergers pits the #32 just before the hour. It's a routine
stop for fuel, but can the Zytek complete another hour?
6 to the Flag
Tommy pits from 6th overall, leading LMP2, and low on fuel.
The ASM Lola is in the pits from second, having also held
off the stop for as long as possible, with Vergers third.
Tommy's stop involves a full clear-out of the radiator intakes
- a standard practice this far into a lengthy race, so that
debris and waste rubber granules can be cleared from the
mesh and minimise any reduction in cooling efficiency.
Hughes pits in the Embassy Radical - routine.
With all pitstops completed, the picture becomes clearer
once again. Tommy's lead over Vergers has increased to 53
seconds, thanks again to the fast-working RML pit crew.
The MG lies 7th overall once more, with Vergers 9th behind
the #10 LMP1 Zytek. The #40 Lola retains third (10th overall)
and has the #14 Racing for Holland Dome between its tail
and the Horag Lola's nose, albeit with half-a-lap separating
Incident between Tommy and the Rollcentre Pescarolo, with
Tommy caught out when Stuart Hall in the LMP1 car appeared
to bog-down on the exit of the first corner. The damage
to the Rollcentre car (right rear) was sufficient to bring
it into the pitlane for repairs at the end of the lap, but
for the time being, Tommy has continued without stopping.
He confirms that the car feels fine. Phil advises him that
there's approximately 20 laps remaining.
The #13 Courage goes off heavily into the gravel just after
the Ford Hairpin. The car is beached and imobile. Tommy
eases by into 6th place overall.
Tommy's advantageb over Vergers, having been pretty constant
for over half an hour, has suddenly grown again to 53 seconds
- almost certainly due to traffic. Many of the prototype
drivers have been commenting on the difficulty being experienced
working through the slower cars, and in some cases, the
poor standard of driving being exhibited by a select but
Ten laps to go, and the gap has increased to 55 seconds.
Five laps to go! Peugeot #8 leads by two laps from the #8.
Tommy's margin over Vergers is 53 seconds.
Three laps . . . plus 56
A near-faultless run byb the works Peugeots secured an untroubled
one-two finish for the 908s, with Sarrazin taking the chequered
flag by two laps from MInassian in the #7.
for RML in LMP2, as Tommy crosses the line 6th overall.
All fifteen LMP2 cars finished, and the first five without
problems of any significant kind. Fifteen prototypes crossed
the line ahead of the leading GT1 car, and this was a race
that RML won on pace alone. It felt particularly good!
gallery of high resolution images from Nurburgring can be