Mans Series 2007
Round 5. Silverstone 1000 Kilometers. September 14th - 16th
the morning's skies were bright and sunny, the mood in the
paddock was sombre. The news, at that time unconfirmed,
suggested that Colin McRae and his five-year-old son Johnny,
together with two friends (one later shown to be one of
Johnny's school mates) had been killed in a helicopter crash
near the McRae's home in Lanarkshire.
best known for his remarkable exploits as a rally driver,
McRae had also dabbled in sportscar racing. In 2004 he shared
a Prodrive-prepared Ferrari 555 at Le Mans with Rickard
Rydell and Darren Turner, and amply demonstrated his versatility
by maintaining a good pace, coping with problems, and coming
through to finish an excellent third in GT1.
He had also competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup and had
close ties with the Bruichladdich Radical squad. Not only
was he an owner of a Radical road car, and was soon to take
delivery of a new one, he had also been a guest driver (and
race leader before retirement with mechanical problems)
in the Radical World Cup round at Donington Park in 2006.
Although he was currently not racing, he had admitted earlier
this year that a future in GT or sportscars was something
he was considering. He was already in discussions regarding
further appearances in the Radical series, and with his
unquestionable abilities and declared ambition to race at
Le Mans once again, speculation about his plans for 2008
had centred on a possible prototype drive. Sadly, we shall
now never know if it would have been a transition to suit
his remarkable talent.
a tribute we include here a link to a YouTube
video of Colin lapping Le Mans in the Care Racing Ferrari
555 Maranello in 2004. Our thoughts are with his family
on the track began at quarter-to-nine with a twenty-minute
session of warm-up for the Le Mans Series teams . . . .
most things, RML has the official warm-up session down to
a fine art. They know the drill, and everything tends to
go according to plan. Saturday at Silverstone lived up to
those expectations. Thomas Erdos was among the early group
heading out onto the circuit and completed three untroubled
laps, one a flyer that clocked 1:40.096, and would repeat
his qualifying position of second in LMP2. The LNT Zytek
would end the period as quickest once again, managing to
get to within almost a second of the car's qualifying best
of the previous day.
Tommy's laps completed, he returned to the pitlane to execute
a flawless driver-change and simulated pitstop with Mike
Newton, who roared away from the garage to rejoin the others
circulating on track. A similar trio of laps, and the session
was over. Another simulated pitstop after the chequered
flag completed RML's routine. "That was all normal
warm-up procedure," confirmed Phil Barker. "We
ran in standard race trim, with full tanks, and everything
went fine. Mike's time was exceptional. To achieve a 43.4
in race set-up is very encouraging."
himself appeared well chuffed, smiling broadly. "I
took three or four cars on that lap," he pointed out.
"I'm hoping to be able to do lots of laps today in
the forty-four to forty-seven bracket, and if I can average
a forty-five I'll be very happy."
LMP2 Times - Warm-up
warm-up completed, the track action could get under way.
The first race was a forty-five minute round of the Radical
World Cup, followed at 10:15 by a half-hour Renault 207
10:30 the Le Mans Series drivers were invited to attend
the official Autograph Session, staged alongside the ACO's
scrutineering truck opposite Race Control. Despite the £25
entry fee, a sizeable number of spectators had arrived,
and a lengthy queue soon developed.
and Tommy took up their place beneath the awning, between
their rivals from Quifel ASM and the Spyker Squadron GT2
squad, including Peter Dumbrek.
team was pleased to welcome several members of the sportscar-racing.com
website forum this weekend, and "Nobby" is seen
here collecting a signed herocard from Mike and Tommy. Nobby
and a fair number of other members were given a guided tour
of the garage by RML's new PR and marketing executive, Dan
Shires. Dan joined RML a few weeks ago, and Silverstone
has been his first opportunity to see the Le Mans Series
team in action. He will be working with Michell Seaman,
who took over the RML Events portfolio earlier this season.
the race starting a little earlier at Silverstone than usual,
the drivers started drifting away from the session at about
eleven, and by half-past the grid was already filling up
with cars, mechanics, photographers and guests.
46 it was one of the largest fields assembled at Silverstone
this season, with the cars taking up their positions forward
of the Grand Prix grid, and well ahead of the start-finish
line. It emphasised the impressive standard of Tommy's qualifying
lap that the red, white and blue MG took up a slot on the
third row, with only the two works Peugeots, the Charouz
Lola and RML's Zytek in front. Only one car had dropped
out ahead of the race; the #26 Lucchini having been withdrawn
with chassis damage.
before the hour the grid was cleared and the cars started
to move off on the parade lap. Tommy was quickly on the
radio to say that the track conditions had deteriorated
significantly since the morning warm-up, probably as a result
of the two support races. In fact, so slippery had the surface
become that one of the Peugeots, and Stefan Mucke in the
Charouz Lola, both directly ahead of Tommy, spun out on
this slow-moving lap.
recovered, although Mucke had skipped out across the grass.
This added to the problems he was already having aboard
the LMP1 Lola, where a late-braking maneuver in qualifying
had flat-spotted his tyres. Required to start on the same
set, he'd soon be making an early pitstop for a new set
coverage is created "live" during the event, and
then driver quotes and additional observations are added
later. This can lead to some inconsistency with tenses,
for which we apologise.
and an incident-free run across the line saw the Silverstone
1000 kilometres off to a clean start. Tommy elects for discretion
at the start of a six-hour race and allows one or two of
the LMP1 runners, formerly behind him on the grid, to ease
through, and then tucks into tenth place behind the #17
Pescarolo. Miguel de Castro in the Quifel ASM Lola is eleventh.
Leading the class, however, right from the start, is Danny
Watts in the LNT "works" Zytek. Not only does
he successfully hold fourth as the leading pack guns for
the lights, but he retains a grip on the tail of Stephan
Mucke in the Charouz Lola in third - the German no doubt
suffering some pretty severe vibrations, thanks to the state
of his tyres.
of Lap 1
Thomas Erdos settled into a comfortable tenth place, already
a healthy thirty metres clear of the #40 Lola. Watts is
all over the Charouz car, Mucke having had a less than copybook
start after that excursion across the grass on the parade
lap. "I was actually slipping about all over the place,"
admitted Erdos afterwards. "I didn't want to lose the
car, but there were just such exceptional low levels of
grip, especially from the back, and I didn't feel confident
enough to push any harder." Appearances can be deceptive,
of Lap 2
The leading Peugeots had already pulled out an impressive
lead, with the #7 car significantly ahead of the sister
car. Third, just, was Mucke in the Charouz car, with hardly
a hair's breadth between the rear of the Lola and the French-blue
nose of the #46 Zytek. Tommy and de Castro remained tenth
and eleventh overall. The Bruichladdich Radical had had
a troubled start, having been tapped (reputedly) by the
Binnie Lola on the opening lap, and having slumped from
a possible third in class, all the way down to plumb last.
Tim Greaves started a gallant fight-back though the field.
Having worked up to pace over the first laps, Tommy was
now closing on the #17 Pescarolo ahead of him, but the #40
ASM Lola was tagging along. Danny Watts was trying his hardest
to take third overall, but no matter how hard he tried,
he couldn't get the legs of the Charouz Lola down the straights.
leaders were now getting in amongst the tail-enders, and
the build-up of traffic was starting to disrupt the flow
of those dicing for position. Watts lost his rhythm somewhat,
and dropped away from Mucke, and Tommy also lost ground
on the #17 Pescarolo, allowing the Quifel Lola to close.
"Actually, it felt like I was losing boost out of second
gear corners," he explained later. "I didn't feel
that my pace was especially good, and the ASM car certainly
seemed to have more than me!"
Gaps oscillated from corner to corner as the faster cars
attempted to dice with each other and overtake the slower
runners. Tommy closed once again on the #17, and the #40
At the end of the eighth lap, the Charouz Lola headed. Watts
is through into third, leading LMP2 by twenty seconds or
more. The leading Peugeot is now so far clear of the rest
that it has almost cleared the pitlane straight before the
second 908 arrives at the start line. Tim Greaves, struggling
to recover ground in the Bruichladdich Radical, is lapped
by the leader. Tommy is evidently being held up by the #17
Pescarolo, but cannot make more of the MG's nimble pace
through the stadium complex, when the LMP1 car can stretch
away so easily from Copse through to Stowe.
Tommy moved ahead of the #17, and so did De Castro in the
ASM Lola. Moments later, (Lap 10) Erdos elected not to defend
the position too fiercely when the Spaniard moved to push
through. "I wasn't going to make a fight of it,"
he conceded. "It was still very early in the race,
so I let him by." This took the #40 up into second
in LMP2, and Erdos slotted in behind, and both cars started
to close down on Tom Chilton in the #10 LMP1 Zytek.
A most bizarre situation has arisen. The advertising hoarding
clipped to the gantry that crosses the track between Copse
and Maggots has broken free, and elements of the cladding
are in danger of falling across the track. The safety car
is deployed while the marshals and circuit staff can remove
the loose material.
order at this stage is: Peugeot #7 leads from the #8 Peugeot,
with the #36 LNT Zytek still third. Fourth is the #16 Pescarolo,
with the #9 Creation fifth. Sixth place is held by the #12
Courage, followed by the #10 LMP1 Zytek, and the #40 Quifel
ASM Lola 8th. Tommy, ninth overall, is third in LMP2.
cars are taking this as an opportunity to make early pitstops
for fuel. Their strategy is probably simply to get out of
sequence with the other cars near their garage in the pitlane,
where space is at a premium. One such is the #35 Saulnier
Courage. Another is the LNT Zytek, but this is not a straightforward
stop, and the car is dragged backwards into the box for
further attention - alternator and battery problems being
the cause. There are ten cars between the safety car and
the leading Peugeot.
loss of the Zytek means that the ASM Lola now leads LMP2
from Tommy, second in the MG.
The LNT Zytek remains in the pits, and has now lost several
laps. The ten cars between the safety car and the leading
Peugeot are released.
The race resumes at the end of the 18th lap. Coming through
Luffield, De Castro weaves heavily from side to side, with
Tommy right behind him The rule is that cars cannot overtake
before they've crossed the start line, but some have been
known to do so before now! Tommy is well behaved, as ever,
but remains tight on the blue Lola's tail as they charge
down the pitlane straight.
traffic is all very tightly packed now, so the faster cars
are left with a lot of traffic to contend with. Tommy is
dicing with Tom Chilton in the #10 Arena Zytek. Although
an LMP1 car, around parts of the Silverstone circuit, there's
little to choose between the two. The white Zytek eventually
gets through, and then settles in between Tommy and the
ASM Lola just ahead (below).
soon passes De Castro as well, and then Tommy closes back
on the ASM car.
Tommy has just been passed by Stephan Mucke in the Charouz
Lola, so now has another LMP1 car between himself and De
Mucke passes De Castro as well, but in the process Chilton
suffers, and drops back behind Tommy again. It's all action
here on the borders of the top-ten! Perhaps having sustained
a little damage, Chilton falls back for a while. The #7
Peugeot continues to lead from the #8, with the #16 Pescarolo
third and the #12 Courage fourth.
With the safety car period some way behind them now the
order is starting to sort itself out nicely, and with cars
moving a little further apart, there is room to move and
overtake. Mucke has disappeared into the distance, and Tommy
is just half a second behind De Castro, first and second
Trawling through traffic, the #9 Creation gets ahead of
Tommy and slots into the gap between the MG and the ASM
Lola. A pattern appears to be developing! Tommy is 3.5 seconds
behind De Castro, but more than five seconds clear of Warren
Hughes, now chasing in the Embassy Radical.
The Creation has passed De Castro, and is pulling away,
leaving Tommy a clear view of the Lola once again. He's
two or three laps left until the first pitstop, the #17
Pescarolo has joined the fun-and-games around the LMP2 leaders.
Danny Watts, two laps behind, is also sharing a similar
length of track, and it makes for entertaining viewing.
Tommy into the pitlane. It's a characteristically quick
pitstop, and in much less than a minute, he's refuelled
and back out on track again. Impressive stuff from the RML
Most of the front-runners in LMP2 make pitstops around the
same time. The #35 Saulnier car, which stopped during the
earlier Safety Car period, stays out longer than anyone
else, and thereby becomes, if only for a short while, the
LMP2 leader. Tommy resumes some 14 seconds behind De Castro.
"Pick it up Tommy," comes the encouragement from
Phil Barker over the radio. "You've taken five seconds
out of him in the last six laps. Great work!"
The gap to De Castro, ahead of Tommy, is 12.5 seconds, but
he enjoys a lead of 26 seconds over Hughes in third.
53 laps into the race and Tommy holds second in LMP2, 10th
overall, and running about 5 seconds behind the class-leading
Quifel ASM Lola; Miguel de Castro having driven the #40
car from the start. Third is Warren Hughes in the Embassy
Radical, 12th overall but half a minute in arrears.
Problem for the Oreca Saleen, currently in second place
within GT1, which has the rear bodywork flapping in the
breeze, and in danger of ripping clear. Meanwhile Tommy
has closed to within 2.6 seconds of De Castro, and is gaining
by a second a lap.
Tommy now right down on de Castro's tail, but is then balked
by one of the GT2 Porsches through Stowe, and has to resume
the process of catching up again. Then, before he can do
anything about it, he is punted up the rear by the #51 Aston
amid the traffic through Priory, and sustains a puncture.
"I'd just passed him, and he must have pulled back
in behind me a little too quickly. Maybe his front splitter
sliced into the tyre, but it blew up so suddenly."
The left hand "legal panel" was damaged, either
by the contact, or quite possibly the tyre itself. The team
examined during the pitstop and while repairs were being
done they attended to a couple of other issues as well.
"It was an unscheduled stop," said Adam Wiseberg,
"but we could have adapted our race strategy to fit.
At that stage of the race it wasn't a significant loss."
Tommy heads back out again. Position unclear at the moment.
Tommy has rejoined in 14th place overall, fifth in LMP2.
De Castro now leads the class comfortably, from Warren Hughes
in the Embassy Radical, Eric van de Poele in the Horag Lola,
and then Juan Barazi in the Barazi Epsilon Zytek. These
are now all ahead of the RML MG.
Miguel de Castro starts the third hour with a pirouette,
and then on the next lap, has a coming-together with the
#79 Porsche and one of the #98 GPC Ferraris between Priory
and Stowe at 12:05. De Castro gets going again, but has
been delayed. He also has some flapping bodywork, and may
be called in for that too. He elects to pit instead, and
the team repair the damaged louvre.
Phil confirms to Tommy over the radio that he is now 22
seconds behind Vergers, now at the wheel of the Barazi Zytek,
and 23 seconds behind Darren Manning, in the Embassy Radical
and now leading LMP2, but the two cars are nose-to-tail.
The delay for the #40, to have the louvres above the front
wheels refitted, has caused the ASM car to drop well back.
One louvre (the front left) has been flapping for over half
There's a close tussle now developing between the Embassy
Radical and the Barazi Zytek, with Vergers trying everything
he knows to get up alongside the Manning's black Radical.
They're lapping in the mid-44s, while Tommy, some twenty
seconds in arrears on track, is two seconds a lap quicker.
a similar nail-biting battle going on in GT1 between the
Larbre DB9R and Darren Turner in the Team Modena Aston.
Turner gets through at Stowe, and after Club, begins pulling
Darren Manning - the Darren in the Radical - loses the LMP2
lead to Michael Vergers at Stowe, the Dutchman being totally
ruthless as he scythes by and then dives into the GT2 traffic
ahead of him, getting a gaggle of Porsches into the mix
and thereby making sure of his position.
Tommy is now holding third in LMP2, about 15 seconds behind
Manning. Tommy takes five seconds out of that deficit in
a single lap.
Tommy though into second, passing Manning, who is falling
back rapidly, perhaps with a problem? Vergers continues
to lead, having an advantage of around 15 seconds over Tommy,
but Manning is almost out of sight behind him on the track.
Lienhard is fourth in the Horag car, the Saulnier Courage
is fifth, and Miguel Amaral lies sixth in the ASM Lola.
Vergers sets a new fastest lap for the Barazi Zytek; 1:40.865
Tommy comments on the fact that the wind is gusting very
strongly through Stowe and Club, just as a Porsche gets
beached at Brooklands. There's a possibility of a safety
car, but the extraction crew pull the car clear with a tractor
unit, and all seems fair for racing.
Collision between the ASM Lola and the Bruichladdich Radical.
Tommy passes and considers a safety car might be necessary,
but after a few moments the two are extracted and rejoin.
Tommy into the pits for his second scheduled stop. The team
refuel the MG while Tommy clambers out and Mike steps aboard.
The Brazilian admits to feeling tired, and is having a few
problems with his lower back. He sets off to see the physio.
fuelling complete three fresh tyres are fitted to the front
and right-rear, but repairs are needed to the so-called
"legal panel" behind the left-rear wheel, so this
one has to be left off while the crew set to work.
suffered from the contact with the #51 Aston at Priory,
and after a hasty repair at the last pitstop, has since
come loose. Under the regulations it must be intact, so
there is no option but to replace it.
this was last attempted earlier this season it required
the car to be drawn back into the garage and the entire
rear undertray was replaced. Since then the team has devised
a far quicker way of replacing this vulnerable panel, and
within five minutes a new unit had been fitted, and at 2:55,
Mike headed back off down the pitlane.
explains that he's been encountering a few problems with
the "throttle jacker". This is an element of the
car's electronics that automatically blips the throttle
between downshifts to smooth out gearchanges. "It has
made downshifting a little slower than usual, and it's especially
evident through the second-gear corners. It means the turbo
isn't spinning fast enough when we exit the corner, and
we're losing a bit of power. It's not drastic, but it does
mean we're not quite as quick as we could be."
has begun a recovery for the ASM Lola, and shortly after
the MG's pitstop, moves through into third after passing
Lienhard. Vergers pits from the class lead just before the
After some confusion with the timing screens, it is now
evident that the MG has lost much ground as a result of
the need to repair the legal panel. Mike is now running
eighth in LMP2, some distance behind the #35 Saulnier Courage,
but running a few seconds per lap quicker.
Vergers in the Barazi Zytek continues to lead the class,
8th overall, with Darren Manning second in the Embassy Radical.
Third is the ASM Lola, followed by Tom Kimber-Smith in the
fast-recovering LNT Zytek. Fifth is the Binnie Lola #31,
followed by Filhol in the #35 Courage.
Mike is 33 seconds behind Filhol, but catching two or three
seconds a lap.
Problem for second-placed Peugeot 908 #8, with a puncture
and two-thirds of a lap to cover before the pitlane. The
third-placed Charouz is closing.
The Charouz Lola is denied third by a problem of its own,
allowing the #16 Pescarolo to take the place, but Jan Charouz,
driving his own car, takes third.
Major "off" for the #50 Larbre Aston, as it buries
itself deeply into a gravel trap. Creation #9 has had to
pit for repairs after driving over the tyre carcass lost
by the #8 Peugeot. At about the same time, Mike Newton loses
seventh to Didier Theys in the Horag Lola #27, but shortly
afterwards the #35 makes its next pitstop and falls back.
Having got out of sequence by pitting during the earlier
Safety Car period, the silver Courage sometimes creates
a confusing order within LMP2. Mike is therefore still seventh.
Jacob Greaves, Tim's son, spins off in the #21 Radical at
Brooklands, and promptly pits for a check up, refuel and
driver-change. The Barazi Zytek has also pitted from the
LMP2 lead. It is a scheduled stop, and Karim Ojeh takes
over from Michael Vergers. Darren Manning leads for Embassy.
The #12 Courage ends up in the gravel on the exit of Luffield.
The officials are clearly considering a safety car.
Safety Car is confirmed, but takes a moment to be sent out.
There is also debris on the track at Woodcote. Mike heads
for the pitlane - he gets there well ahead of the train
of cars already caught by the safety car.
Mike leaves the pitlane with the order to "Push, push,
push!" from Phil, who wants him to catch the rear of
the train. He gets out just ahead of the safety car, so
can recover the lap. Back in the pitlane, a whole host of
cars are also making pitstops. This may work out well for
Mike, who looks to have picked up some positions as a result.
It was a quick call from Phil Barker, and it may have paid
off, but only just! "As Mike came to the end of the
pitlane the lights changed to red just as he passed them,
it was that close!" said Adam Wiseberg. "The car
was just over the line." Mike was aware of the situation.
"The front wheels were just across the line as I saw
the lights change out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't
have stopped, and if I had, then I'd have been stopped in
the pitlane, beyond the lights, which is a definite no-no."
Getting out ahead of the safety car effectively saved the
team a lap. "That was one of the rare occasions when
a safety car actually worked in our favour," smiled
#7 Peugeot continues to lead overall, with the Charouz Lola
second, the #16 Pescarolo third. The Rollcentre Pescarolo
has found fourth place, just ahead on the puncture-delayed
#8 Peugeot. The #9 Creation lies sixth, and rounds off the
leading LMP1 pack.
LMP2, and seventh overall, is the #32 Barazi Zytek. Manning
has pitted under the safety car and handed over the Embassy
Radical to Warren Hughes. Tom Kimber-Smith holds ninth for
the #36 LNT Zytek, just ahead of the Chilton brothers in
the #10 Arena Zytek. 11th overall is Burgeno in the #40,
with Bill Binnie 12th, and then Mike Newton, thirteenth
overall and sixth in LMP2.
The race gets back under way. There is a manic rush for
the smallest gap, as cars that were once several seconds
or more apart, can now see their next targets just ahead,
but have slower cars in between. Mike loses one position
to Didier Theys in the #27 Horag Lola, but the position
is shown immediately on the timing screens, suggesting that
Theys has overtaken before the duo crossed the line. Technically,
this is not permitted under the safety car regulations.
Either way, Mike is back down to seventh.
Mike is catching Bill Binnie rapidly. The American has already
succumbed to Theys, and having had a five-second advantage
of Mike, has seen that disappear completely. They are almost
nose-to-tail. "See where he's weak, where he's strong,
Mike," says Phil over the radio. "Be patient!"
Mike makes a run for Binnie through Abbey, but it goes wrong.
"Somehow, I got a boxful of neutrals," he clarified
later. "All I could see was a bunch of zeroes on the
dash, and I had trouble selecting a gear. Technically, that
can't happen - not when the car's moving - and it took me
a moment to find a gear again. I was just coasting, and
that cost me time. I just had to start reeling him in all
Karim Ojeh leads the class from Warren Hughes, but Hughes
is lapping as much as six seconds a lap quicker than the
Barazi driver. The LMP2 lead my eventually change, but the
gap is over a minute at the present!
Mike's attempts at getting by Bill Binnie are being repeatedly
thwarted. "I was really pushing through the Maggots-Becketts
complex, but I came round and was unsighted by a GT2 Porsche,
and there was a huge chunk of debris that had been clipped
onto the racing line. I had nowhere to go but straight over
it. It had me airborne, and by the time I'd put my teeth
back in, I'd lost Binnie . . . again." He backs off
a little and Phil tells him not to worry, because Tommy
can always get him later!
Having lost ground as a result of his aborted pass, MIke
is now closing back again on Binnie, and has halved the
gap to four seconds. Within a lap he's narrowed that still
further to 3.6 seconds. He is concerned about the possibility
of damage to the car, however, after unspecified contact.
"It feels OK," he says, "but I drove straight
over that debris."
The #19 Chamberlain Synergy LMP1 Lola (19th overall) is
off once . . . then then again three minutes later.
Mike pits to hand back to Tommy Erdos, and the team perform
an exemplary pitstop to see the Brazilian back out again
before 4:50. Mike, however, is in a bad way, having been
suffering from severe cramp in his upper left leg, and this
gets markedly worse as he climbs from the car. It is several
minutes before he can stand. He's also been suffering with
wind . . . which has been exceptionally blustery, particularly
at the end of Hangar Straight and through Stowe, he says.
"Never a dull moment," he laughs. "It was
particularly exciting when I was airborne. It may even have
been our own legal panel that I drove over - the original
one we lost before Tommy's pitstop. I just gritted my teeth
and stared at the sky. The car jumped out of gear when I
landed, so I Iost even more ground to the Binnie car than
I might otherwise have done."
on track, Tommy is some 70 seconds behind Binnie, although
the #31 has yet to pit, but his next target is Eric van
de Poele in the #27 Horag Lola.
Gap to Binnie has dropped to 63 seconds. Tommy is also catching
the #27 by six to ten seconds almost every lap! Then the
Horag car pits, and comes out again just ahead of Tommy
on the track, by about 15 seconds.
Tommy is six seconds behind Eric van de Poele now, but closing
fast. Binnie, just ahead of the #27 car, has yet to stop.
Ojeh spins at Stowe, and Hughes narrows the gap to half
The gap between Tommy and Van de Poele has narrowed further,
and stands at just 3.9 seconds.
The #31 Binnie Motorsports Lola makes its final pitstop,
and Tommy has made up enough time in the interim to ensure
that the MG has swept past the end of the pitlane by the
time the Binnie car rejoins. There are 20 laps left to go,
it is calculated.
Marc Lieb in the #77 Felbermayr Porsche is struggling back
to the pitlane with only three wheels on his wagon.
Problems for the Embassy Radical, as it pulls off the track.
No indication yet as to why. Tommy is seven one-hundredths
of a second behind Van de Poele as they cross the line at
the start of the next lap.
As the press room watches enthralled in the battle for second
overall, with Emanuel Collard fighting through to get ahead
of Stephan Mucke in the Charouz Lola, Tommy serenely sails
by Eric van de Poele. "We'd been having a great scarp,"
said Erdos later. "Eric's a very fair driver, but he's
also very quick. He has a habit of speeding up again whenever
you get close, like he's always got something in reserve.
He does it all the time! You catch up, and he just pushes
harder. He pulls away a bit, but you can see he's right
on the limit. He's a former F1 driver, and I thoroughly
enjoy racing against him. He's hard but fair, and very clean.
I have no problems with that - he just makes you work hard
for every foot of track. I eventually got by him down Hangar
Straight and into Stowe."
later transpires that Eric's radio had not been working
correctly, and although the team on the pit wall was giving
him instructions and advice on his position, Eric couldn't
hear them. He hadn't been aware that Tommy was so close
until he arrived on his tail!
MG is back in the points, potentially anyway, with the #25
now lying 12th overall, and occupying 5th in LMP2. The next
target is the Embassy Radical, which is currently in the
pits, having limped back there after its incident. Still
moving, however, is Miguel Burgeno in the ASM Lola, who
has already benefited from Warren's malaise, and is into
The Embassy Radical is still in the pits, and Tommy thunders
by to begin his 173rd lap. He has already extended his advantage
over Van de Poele to nine seconds. Eleven laps left for
the leading Peugeots, plural, as the #8 has fought its way
back up to second, and just taken the position from Collard.
Stephan Mucke pulls off the track at Becketts. He gets going
again, but very slowly. There appears to be damage to the
steering, and he cannot control the Lola. Tommy has an advantage
of 6.4 seconds over Eric van de Poele, but little chance
of catching Burgeno unless the Portuguese car encounters
Six laps to go, and six seconds advantage. It is important
that Tommy stays ahead of the #27 Lola, for the sake of
the championship, but Van de Poele is pushing as hard as
he can. Back in the pitlane, Warren Hughes finally gets
the Embassy Radical back out and into the race, albeit in
20th position overall.
The #8 Peugeot, from second overall, pits, and then is hauled
backwards into the garage. Tommy's lead over the #27 Lola
has narrowed to less than three seconds, as Van de Poele
tries everything he knows to keep their championship hopes
alive. Finishing behind the MG means there's no possibility
of their winning the title. Tommy responds, and by the end
of the next lap has reclaimed more than six seconds to re-establish
the lead at more than nine . "I wasn't going to push
any harder than I needed to," was Tommy's response.
"I just made sure I kept the gap under control, but
I was having to work hard to stay focused on the job. I
could sense by the tone of Phil's voice over the radio that
he was just a little concerned when Eric started to close
again, but I had everything under control, I promise! I
was actually feeling tired by the end, after that long first
stint, and my body was starting to feel it a bit. Three
hours at Le Mans is one thing, but three hours around Silverstone
is something else. There's just no time to relax."
Three laps remaining, and the gap is fluctuating lap-by-lap,
with the last count being just over five seconds.
The Binnie Lola and the #36 Zytek, have had a major head-to-head,
and they're both stranded on the kerbs. The LNT Zytek was
lying second in LMP2. Will it hold the position?
The chequered flag waves, with LMP1 victory going to the
#7 Peugeot, and the Barazi Zytek claiming top honour is
LMP2. Tommy crosses the line fourth, just off the podium,
but with valuable points, thanks to the hard work by the
pit crew to execute such a speedy repair to that rear three-quarters.
Heartbreak for the Horag team, as Eric van de Poele heads
into the pitlane on the penultimate lap with a slow puncture.
With the leader starting his final lap, the pitlane closed,
and the red and white Lola was trapped, unable to take the
flag, and therefore unclassified in the results. If Eric's
radio had been working, he'd have heard the team telling
him to stay out and make the best of it. Cruel bad luck.
puncture, and having to replace the legal panel, cost us
the race," shrugged Phil Barker. "We had to fit
a completely new component, and that took nearly six minutes,
and the rest is history." A quick check of the final
times suggests that the three laps this accounted for would
have placed the MG on the top step of the podium, and the
title beyond reach. "Mike and Tommy both drove brilliantly,
and MIke responded to the situation and did everything I
asked of him. I had to keep badgering him a bit, but he
dug deep and got the job done. Tommy and Eric had a good
battle there at the end, but without Mike's efforts, Tommy
would never have been close enough to take the #27 Lola
at the end. All in all, that was a good recovery, and we
claimed a good number of points. The boys should be pleased
with that." It could all have been a lot closer, though.
"I nearly had a heart attack when Bill Binnie and the
LNT Zytek had that coming-together right at the end!"
laughed Barker. If the ASM Lola had passed them both, they'd
have secured a significant haul of extra points.
team had a lot of issues to deal with today, and they performed
brilliantly," said Mike Newton. "The car kept
running strongly all the way to the end, and that keeps
us in the running for the title."
had some problems, and we overcame them in typical RML-AD
Group fashion," said Adam Wiseberg. "We ended
up with a far better result than we might have thought was
possible a couple of hours into the race. As usual, sterling
performances from both our drivers."
failed to take the flag, the #27 Horag Lola earned no points
from Silverstone, and can no longer challenge for the championship.
result means that the ASM trio of drivers only narrow the
gap on Mike and Tommy by one point. The RML duo lead the
race for the LMP2 title by six points, with one race left.
The final round at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil is proving
to be a less popular event than the ACO might have hoped,
and over recent weeks a number of teams have announced that
they will not be attending. Of the ten or eleven regular
LMP2 entries, the attendance of roughly half is in question.
In theory, only the ASM drivers can now catch Mike and Tommy,
but they'd need to score five points more than the RML pair
to do so. Mike enlarged on the dilemma. "Not only that,
but if less than six cars go to Brazil, then only half points
will be awarded, and that will mean a maximum on offer of
just five for a win. Since we have a six-point lead, we
could not be beaten." Memories probably went back to
Istanbul in 2005, when Mike and Tommy would have won the
title if the "outsider" running in a strong second
towards the end of the race hadn't unexpectedly retired.
team faces the prospects of a race in Brazil with mixed
thoughts. One person, perhaps above all others, feels this
particularly strongly. Thomas Erdos has never competed professionally
in his homeland, and would dearly love to do so. "It's
a difficult subject for me," he admitted. "I have
very mixed feelings. I've never raced in Brazil and this
would be my first race in front of a "home" crowd.
Even so, I have every confidence in the team I work for,
and I know they'll do the right thing. It will be what's
best for us as a whole team and also for next season. There
are issues with travelling to Brazil, and against those
concerns, it's important that we look to the future too.
If not going to Brazil, whatever the effect on the championship,
means that we stand a better chance of being prepared for
2008, then so be it. If we can't go there to win, then I
don't think we should go, it's as simple as that."
reference to "issues" is perhaps a reference to
the widely held belief that matters in Brazil are not as
secure as they might be. "Tommy has the advantage of
knowing what they'd be saying to us when we were in the
process of being robbed, or whatever," suggested Mike
with a smile.
will actually happen with regards to the Interlagos event
should become clearer in the days ahead.
full results of all races and events being staged at the
Silverstone this weekend, please visit this
where it is possible to download PDF files for all sessions
are high resolution images posted in the Silverstone