Mans Series 2007
Round 3. Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers. June 29th - July 1st
weekend continued to go from strength to strength, with
an excellent final period of Free Practice late-morning
being followed by a first pole of the year for Thomas Erdos
in the afternoon’s qualifying session.
third practice session came sensibly late in the morning,
at 11:40, and ensured that everyone was as ready as they’d
ever be for another hour of fine-tuning and personal improvement.
With such excellent progress having come in the event’s
second period on Friday afternoon, RML had a slightly different
agenda for Saturday morning. There remained just a few issues
relating to set-up and balance to be addressed, and to that
end, Thomas Erdos went out for the first twenty minutes.
Brazilian wasn’t out to set quick times – not
yet anyway – and he concentrated instead on establishing
that the MG’s balance had achieved that slight improvement
over the evening before that he’d been striving for.
Before he could do that, however, there was the slight irritation
of a wobbly mirror to attend to, but with that fixed, he
was able to go out for a trio of laps before feeling well
satisfied with the car’s composure, and handed over
to Mike Newton.
night the two drivers had settled down to watch an enthralling
video. This wasn’t a Hollywood blockbuster, but it
did have its moments. This was the in-car CCTV footage from
all of Friday’s practice sessions, and it proved to
be enlightening stuff. Between them, they highlighted about
half-a-dozen areas where Tommy felt that Mike could find
a few extra tenths – here and there a quicker line,
a later braking point or a better exit. Now, in the harsh
light of day, Mike’s ability to put theory into practice
was about to be put to the test.
his enormous credit, the hard work paid off. Mike’s
best time was a 1:50.992, 14th fastest in LMP2 (out of some
thirty drivers) and would have been good enough for seventh-fastest
in LMP2 for the session. What was more, he didn’t
do just one lap in that bracket, but a whole succession
of them, time after time. “I was very pleased with
that,” he said, beaming broadly. “Everything
that wasn’t right yesterday came together today. We
looked at the data, picked out four or five elements where
there was room for improvement, and I went out there and
ticked them off one by one.” He had every right to
feel proud. His time was more than two seconds faster than
he’d ever managed before, and he’d proved to
himself, and everyone in the team, that it wasn’t
focus this time was on improving the chassis a little, but
mainly to give Michael as much time in the car as we could,”
explained Phil Barker. “Looking at the split times
from yesterday, we had a rough idea what he was capable
of achieving, but by examining the data and the video, he
transformed his lap, and dramatically improved his times,
not only over yesterday, but compared with last year as
Erdos was especially pleased. “That was a fabulous
effort by Mike,” he said. “He not only managed
to find all that extra time, but he did it consistently.
To my mind, that’s perhaps the greatest achievement
we’ve had so far this weekend.”
entire team was in buoyant mood as the time for qualifying
approached. The twenty-minute session began at three o’clock,
and Tommy was among the leading group as the cars headed
out onto the circuit.
weather had held fair, much against the forecasts, and the
track conditions were probably the best they’d been
all weekend. This was reflected in some pretty rapid times,
right from the opening few minutes.
to cross the line in LMP2 was Bruce Jouanny in the #32 Saulnier
Courage, and for a few seconds he held fastest in class,
but that changed markedly the instant the red-white and
blue MG swept across the start-finish line at the end of
Tommy’s first flying lap. His time; 1:47.407 didn’t
quite match his best from Friday, but it was enough to move
him on to third fastest overall.
through was Stuart Moseley in the Bruichladdich Radical,
second quickest in P2 on 1:48.079, but that paled when Erdos
came through for his second flyer. A new best of 1:45.492
was sufficient to take the MG to fastest overall!
was still on a charge as he started his third lap, and was
making his intentions very obvious as he flashed his headlights
at anyone who threatened to get in his way – LMP1
cars included. “He’s on a quickie!” said
Phil Barker over the radio in response to a query from Mike
Newton. “I can’t disturb him now.” He
was indeed, but no matter how much a driver flashes his
headlights, some others simply won’t make room, and
soon enough, he encountered traffic. While Moseley improved
with a 1:46.953, moving to fifth overall, and Stefan Mucke
went fastest for LMP1 with a 1:44.562, Tommy’s third
lap was a disappointing 1:45.961.
long-anticipated challenge from Michael Vergers in the Barazi
Zytek #32 finally came at this point, with the Dutchman
posting 1:46.172 to go second in P2, third overall, and
seven-tenths behind Tommy’s best lap. “Try for
one more lap,” suggested Phil Barker. “We’ll
watch your first sector and see how it goes.” It didn’t
go brilliantly, and unable to find the gap in the traffic
that he needed, Tommy returned to the pitlane.
begin with he remained strapped into the cockpit, just outside
the team garage. He was content to sit there and watch the
times, knowing that a fresh set of tyres was sitting in
the heaters ready to be fitted at a moment’s notice.
Marc Gene went fastest overall in the #7 Peugeot LMP1 with
an impressive 1:42.139, and Vergers also managed an improvement,
clocking 1:45.828 and drawing slightly closer to the MG’s
time. “Let me try . . . let me try a little harder,”
said Tommy, but for the time being, Phil didn’t take
up the offer.
Shimoda moved into third overall in the Arena LMP1 Zytek
on 1:45.189, and Pedro Lamy found second with 1:42.148 for
the #8 Peugeot, and all these P1 times were having an effect
on the MG’s standing overall. It had dropped to fifth,
but the important fact was that it still stood clear of
Vergers in the #32 Zytek. Would Phil be tempted to send
Tommy out for one more try? Time was running out.
was still pushing, but he seemed to be having troubles in
the first sector, where his time was no match for Erdos.
Having left it late to change tyres, the Barazi driver was
pushing harder and harder on his existing set, and on his
next lap, found some extra pace through the final sector
to hit 1:45.539, less than a tenth off Tommy’s time.
Tommy went out now, he’d have time for only one flying
lap. Vergers too had that time, but on old tyres, could
he improve? Emanuel Collard could in the LMP1 Pescarolo,
slotting into fifth with a 1:45.117 that demoted Tommy to
sixth. It was time to be realistic. “If we do get
pole it’s a bonus,” said Phil Barker, “but
we’re here for the six-hours. You can stay out on
there (in the pitlane), but if you don’t want to go
out (on the track), that’s fine. If we hold pole,
that’s a bonus, if Vergers gets it, all credit to
that, the MG was hauled back into the box. At almost the
same time, Michael Vergers was burbling down the pitlane
to park up outside the Barazi garage, where he clambered
out, his best not quite good enough this time. That left
Stuart Moseley holding third in LMP2 on 1:46.953, with the
ASM Lola fourth (de Castro taking responsibility for qualifying)
on 1:47.242 after a last-lap improvement.
the final minute a string of quick laps from P1 cars demoted
Tommy and the MG to 8th, including good times from Cochet,
Collard and Gounon, but that no longer mattered. What did
matter was that Thomas Erdos and the RML MG Lola had secured
their first pole of the year. It felt good, very good indeed.
very, very pleased with that,” said Adam Wiseberg.
“That’s a great result, and the guys have done
a remarkable job to get the car to where it is now. As always,
Tommy has driven a tremendous lap and given us all a boost.
I believed that pole was a possibility today, having studied
the potential of the other teams over the past two days,
but it still feels very good when it actually happens. We
now know we have a car with the pace to beat the opposition.”
felt that he “could have gone a little bit quicker.
We knew we had a good car after that second session on Friday,
but there was always the unknown of what the others were
going to be able to do today, especially the Zytek. I was
happy to sit out the last few minutes in the pitlane, knowing
that there was a little more in reserve if I needed it.
Luckily, I didn’t have to try.” The tactic had
been to establish a high target for the others to chase,
as early in the session as possible. That had worked perfectly.
“We needed to put (our rivals) into the position where
they had to push hard, and they did exactly that. Now we
can go forward into the race knowing that we’re in
good shape, with plenty of life left in the tyres.”
remains acutely aware of the Zytek’s potential, however.
“That car is widely perceived to be the leading chassis
in LMP2, so it makes it even sweeter to get pole today on
that basis. The team just gave me a great car today.”
Wiseberg concluded with some thought about Mike. “It
would be remiss of me not to mention the huge strides that
Mike has made this year, and particularly this week. He’s
a very analytical driver, and he has made great use of our
company’s in-car CCTV recording technology in order
to study exactly where he can make improvements. Between
them, he and Tommy have studied all the footage from the
past two days, compared their techniques and lines, and
worked on the finer points. It has clearly paid off.”
team retired from the circuit for a well-earned rest ahead
of morning warm-up tomorrow, scheduled for 08:30, and then
the mid-day race start.
Ten in LMP2
full results of all races and events being staged at the
Nurburgring this weekend, please visit this
where it is possible to download PDF files for all sessions.
There are high resolution images posted in the Nurburgring