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 previous raceClick here to move on to next race

Le Mans 24 Hours 2007
Tuesday 13th June 2007

RML’s MG Lola EX264 was the first car booked in for scrutineering after lunch on Tuesday. By then the sun had started to burn through the morning’s heavy clouds, and as the temperature started to rise, the resplendent red white and blue MG was eased forward to begin the administrative checks.

The attendance this year have already been impressive, not only for last weekend’s test day, when numbers exceeded 20,000, but also for the administrative checks in the Place des Jacobins, down in the city centre. Much of that is thanks to the involvement of French car manufacturer Peugeot, whose 908 HDi coupé prototype is believed by many to be the first car in seven years to have any chance of beating the all-conquering Audis. On home soil, that has caught the imagination of the French people, and they’ve turned out in their droves to catch sight of the new cars. With that fresh interest spilling over into a wider awareness of the 24 Hours, celebrating its 75th running this year, the numbers on all days appear to be up, and today was no exception.

The MG was brought down from the circuit to the centre of Le Mans on an open-topped transporter, where it was joined by the entire team. No sooner had the car been eased off the flat-bed than it was surrounded by a crowd of admirers, eager to get close to the car that has won LMP2 here at Le Mans for the past two years. It would be another half an hour before the MG would finally enter the first of four scrutineering bays.

Meanwhile, the three drivers headed into the central restricted area - restricted to team members and accredited journalists only - to go through their signing-on process. Their licenses are checked to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements for racing at this level – an International Licence at grade B is necessary. Their race suits and helmets are also checked for compliance. It tends to be something of a formality, and routinely straightforward, and all three soon emerged from the air-conditioned cabins into the bright glare of the sun, and the photographer's flashguns. Wearing race suits, the drivers are easily picked out by the journalists, who quiz them on the car they will drive, their prospects for the race, and who they’d choose to be stranded with on a desert island.

Mike, Tommy and Andy were then called through to the main ACO stage to he interviewed over the public address system by Bruno Vandestick, the “master of ceremonies” at so many of these ACO occasions.

For more than quarter of an hour they were quizzed, with questions raging from “keeping a winning team together” to observations about Tommy’s new hairstyle.

Mike Newton declared, on behalf of the whole team, how delighted RML is to have Andy Wallace back in the team again for a second year. Asked about the car itself, he said that there had been a deliberate intention to keep the car as similar this year to the configuration that so successfully won LMP2 in 2006. “There have been some refinements, he admitted, “but the car is essentially the same.” He also explained how the team had run with the new ’07 bodywork at Valencia a few weeks ago, and proven to their own satisfaction that the previous configuration, dubbed the “oh-six”, was actually more efficient in low-down-force configurations than the newer one.

Tommy, having dismissed some less-than-flattering observations about his longer-than-usual hair, declared that he was “more determined than ever this year” when questioned about the possibility of claiming a hat-trick at Le Mans. Looking to the future, Mike was asked what he would like to race in the years ahead, and was he tempted by the newly revealed Lola LMP1 coupé? He was emphatic in his response. “The great thing about LMP2 is that the cars are open-topped,” he said, “and it’s so much more fun than being cooped up in a GT car or a closed prototype.”

Jan Lammers and his Racing for Holland team had arrived at the foot of the stage by this time, and Bruno grasped an opportunity to bring together two team-mates from the past. Andy and Jan shared the Silk Cut Jaguar XJR9 to outright victory in 1988, and they are often reminded of the fact. As Lammers stepped up onto the stage, Wallace stood up and made a “not-worthy” bow towards the Dutch driver. It was met with a round of applause. “Everything Jan taught me nineteen years ago, I still use today,” he said. “It’s good to see him looking so young!”

Jan suggested that their relationship had not got off to perfect start. “I would have won the race at Macau if it hadn’t have been for him!” said Lammers. Apparently, they had been running towards the finish line, with Lammers leading, when the Dutchman made a rare mistake. Wallace, chasing through in second place, took advantage, and eased ahead. For a moment they were banging wheels along the main straight towards the finish line, but the Englishman just had the advantage. “Andy won the race,” said Jan, “and I finished second, but we’ve become such good friends that, in a way, I feel as though I still won.”

With Jan and Andy up on stage, it was a natural progression to invite their respective partners to join them. Catherine Wallace was the first to step up, followed by Marishka, Jan’s partner. Catherine was introduced, not only as Andy’s wife, but also his former Crew Chief in Grand Am, a first class engineer and an experienced aerodynamicist. “That means she’s full of hot air most of the time!” quipped Andy. One sensed that a clip round the ear might not have gone amiss. Catherine gave a more flattering response. “He’s very intense as a driver, and he’s very good at feedback. In fact, he’s an excellent engineering driver, and he always gives 100%.”
Jan then admitted that Andy used to tease him about being so small, but “then I got him back with my girlfriend!” Marishka is tall, at somewhere near six foot, and Jan is relatively short, at five foot plus a bit. “She’s a business economist,” added Jan. “She was excellent for the team, and we got on really well, and now we’re partners for life.”

Only five members of the team are permitted to accompany the car, and the remainder must stand behind the barriers, with their fingers crossed. There were no significant changes to the process this year, so the first process remains one of checking paperwork and establishing that the car being presented is the same one that has been accepted by the ACO for the race. This is usually a formality, but still takes about ten minutes to complete. From there, the car is eased forwards into the first of two bays where compliance with the technical regulations is checked. The car is examined thoroughly to make sure that the dimensions are correct, no parts of the body overhang too far, the curvature of the sills is in accordance with the stipulated requirements, the “plank” beneath the car is of the specified thickness, and so on.

The initial measurements are carried out with the car on a “flat patch”, but in the next bay the car is raised above head height so that the undertray can be checked. The RML MG sailed though without a hiccup.

From there, the cars are pushed forwards into a section where the safety aspects of construction and equipment are assessed. The electrics, lighting, drivers’ seat and belts, fire extinguishers and other equipment is inspected. Once again, a clean bill of health for the RML MG, so Phil Barker, Team Manager, was called forward into the ACO office to be issued with the self-adhesive panels that, once stuck to the car, confirm that it has passed scrutineering and is permitted to race.

Nearing the end of the scrutineering process, the team started gathered together for the official team and car photograph in the far corner of the square. There was a brief delay, and Martin Haven of Motors TV took advantage of that by grabbing the three drivers and calling them up onto the nearby television stage.

With the paperwork complete, Phil Barker stepped down from the administration vehicle clutching the stickers confirming the MG's compliance with the regulations, and acceptance to race. These were handed over to Adam Hughes, who fixed them to the sidepods of the car (left).

With the exception of Ray Mallock and Adam Wiseberg, every member of the squad was present for the final stage in the procedure - the taking of the official team photograph.

This image appears in a booklet, published on Friday, which contains details of all the cars, drivers and team participating in the race, and is also likely to be reproduced in yearbooks, reviews and magazine articles all around the world. The car alone is photographed first, followed the the car with the three drivers, and then finally the entire squad is called forward.

That done, the car was loaded back onto the flatbed, the personnel headed off back to the circuit in a pair of minibuses, and the drivers were left to face the throngs of autograph hunters and amateur photographers.

“It was typically uneventful,” shrugged Phil Barker, referring to the scrutineering procedure “They had no problems with the car, everything was very straightforward, and there were no dramas. That’s exactly how we like it.”

Tomorrow sees the track action begin, with the first practice and qualifying sessions starting at 7:00pm. Three days ago the forecast had been for heavy rain and thunderstorms. As the hour approaches, that has eased, but few expect a totally dry run.