the Archives - RML Team News
Daytona 2005. Issued February 12th 2005
one hours and the counting stopped for Thomas Erdos, Mike
Newton and the Synergy Racing Doran BMW. It had been, at
times, a satisfying run for the two RML regulars and their
co-driving team-mates; the two Frisselle brothers, but it
all came to a premature end with transmission problems.
relatively lowly starting position on the grid had been
the team’s initial challenge, but three hours of steady
running saw the red, white and blue Daytona prototype steadily
gaining places, to be running just outside the top ten.
Even to that stage, however, it hadn’t been a trouble-free
run, but things were about to get steadily more difficult
as the car encountered a succession of problems. “We
had problems with drive-shafts, brakes and gearbox, which
all combined to ensure we lost several laps, and that put
us out of contention,” said Erdos. After that it was
just a case of keeping going for as long as possible, and
hoping that reliability would return. Sadly, it did not.
American Burt Frisselle had taken
the race start, followed in the second stint by his younger
brother Brian, with Thomas Erdos taking the third stint,
and Mike Newton rounding off the quartet, before the sequence
began again. “Our first delay came before even a quarter
of the race had elapsed,” explained Tommy. “That
dropped us to something like 42nd place. It was a problem
with driveshafts.” Although the team recovered several
of those places over the next couple of hours, a new problem,
this time with brake pads, knocked them back again, followed
by some on-track contact that necessitated a pitstop to
check for damage and make some minor repairs.
first stint proved to be a lengthy one. “It was almost
a double!” he said. A full course yellow, prompted
by an accident to one of the other cars, was used as an
opportunity to bring the Synergy DP back into the pitlane.
“The team refuelled the car and fitted fresh tyres.
I was allowed to stay in for another full stint.”
Tyres were proving to be a challenge for all the teams,
but Synergy had developed a strategy that appeared to be
making their rubber last a little longer. “We’d
found that the best way to use the tyres on the #8 Doran
was to put the harder compound on the right and the softer
on the left. We’d tried the soft compound on the right
much earlier in the race, but they went off very quickly.”
This seemed to suit the Daytona banking; a feature of what
is normally an oval circuit adapted for sportscar racing
by the use of infield sections, a system adopted by the
Rockingham circuit in England. “We used those softer
tyres on the left whenever we could, but we only had nine
sets to last the whole meeting, so we were forced to use
hard tyres all round sometimes.”
team’s second major problem came in the middle of
the night, during Tommy’s third stint at the wheel,
and it gave him something rather special to deal with. “I
lost all gears coming into Turn 1,” he explained.
“The approach there is one of the fastest on the track.
I tried to make the downshift, but nothing happened. I was
suddenly free-wheeling towards the corner at over 180 miles
an hour with no gears! I made the corner, but only just.
I don’t know how I held it on the track. Eventually
I was able to find fourth gear and limp back to the pits,
but it was quite a moment!” It transpired that a circlip
had popped loose in the gearbox and the engineers had to
replace the whole gear cluster before the car, with Tommy
still driving, could go racing again. “I completed
my double stint, and that was the best part of the race
for me. I found I was running in a “train" amongst
the race leaders and, for just about the whole of that stint,
I was able to set the same lap times as they were. It was
very encouraging.” It didn’t last long, unfortunately.
“It all looked to be going so well. I came in and
refuelled, took on new rubber and headed back out again.
Then, 20 to 30 minutes into the second part of that double
stint, just as I was coming out of the Bus Stop chicane,
the drive just disappeared. I had enough momentum to coast
back to the pits, where the team diagnosed that the differential
had packed up. That was the end of our race.”
have been running so competitively at the beginning, and
proven later in the race that their car, if not the fastest
on the track, was still able to mix it with the best, was
especially disheartening. “It was desperately disappointing
for all the team,” admitted Tommy. “They’re
such a good bunch, and Mike was having one of his best races
duo is now back in the UK and preparing for the start of
their next challenge; the Le Mans Endurance Series, with
a first test coming up shortly in the all-new RML Lola prototype.
photos: Bob Chapman for AD Holdings. Night shot: www.dailysportscar.com