the Archives - RML Team News
Le Mans Endurance Series 2004. Round 4, Spa, September 11-12th
Official RML Press Release. Issued August 14th 2004
for MG EX257
sportscar team bought the MG Lola EX257 home in 5th position
in LMP1 today in the fourth and final round of the 2004
Le Mans Endurance Series at Spa, Belgium. With over 1000km
of the challenging circuit to complete, Thomas Erdos, Mike
Newton and Miguel Ramos all drove strong double-stints in
an incident filled race to secure the MG’s best result
two qualifying sessions were carried out with changeable
weather conditions and several red flags, but each of the
team's three drivers improved their lap times to record
the MG’s highest grid position this year. In the closing
stages of the second qualifying session Tommy set a time
of 2:07:351, only 1.38 seconds behind the pole sitting Zytek,
to secure 5th position on the grid.
took the start of the race and a good run off the line saw
him gain fourth position (left), edging ahead of the Team
Goh Audi R8 on the run down towards Eau Rouge. Unfortunately,
the bigger capacity of the other LMP1 cars’ engines
proved superior on the run up the hill to Les Combes, and
the MG dropped back to 6th. Gaining a place during the first
safety car period, Tommy ran in 5th until the dramatic exit
of the No. 8 Audi bought the safety car back out. An accident
at Blanchimont left the rear of the car severely damaged,
yet Pierre Kaffer managed to limp the car back to the pitlane
in flames. Erdos pitted slightly early while the track was
being cleared and the team gave him fresh tyres as a precaution
changeable weather continued and very light rain soon grew
heavier, forcing Tommy to pit for a second tyre change .
Rejoining in 11th position on wet-weather tyres, he drove
a competitive second stint and climbed his way through traffic.
Gaining places consistently he bought the MG in from fourth
position overall, handing the car over to Mike Newton.
had soon climbed up to third position, overtaking Alexander
Frei in the #13 Courage, and lapping consistently throughout
his first stint. Yet another safety car period enabled him
to pit for fuel, yet rejoin while still retaining third
place. He made his way through the traffic cautiously as
there was still debris on the track, before he was able
to pick up the pace. Running in a very strong third for
22 laps, Mike maintained a consistent pace before another
incident bought the safety car back out on track. This time
the fourth-placed Creation DBA was able to regain a lap
and close up on the MG. Still struggling a little with straight-line
speed the MG couldn’t hold off Jamie Campbell-Walter
in the challenging Creation for much longer, and just before
the fourth hour Mike was forced to drop back to 4th.
handed the car over to Miguel with just over an hour-and-a-half
of the race remaining. Miguel soon began to gather pace
and lapped competitively before a bad vibration forced him
to pit with a suspected puncture. On fresh tyres he rejoined
in fifth position before again climbing up to fourth.
continued to lap competitively and gained a 28-second lead
on his nearest rival. With his first pit stop having falling
a little ahead of the planned race strategy, Miguel needed
to back off the pace just a little to conserve fuel. It
wasn’t enough for him to run to the finish however,
and with six minutes of the race remaining he was forced
to pit for a ‘splash-and-dash’ fuel stop. However,
without the necessary time advantage over Sam Hancock in
the LMP2 class-leading #13 Courage and Sam Hignett in the
LMP1 Jota Zytek, he lost two places on rejoining and crossed
the line in 6th position overall, fifth in LMP1.
had a very good start and managed to stay out of trouble
in the opening laps," said Thomas Erdos afterwards.
"We were lacking in straight-line speed which was unfortunate
because otherwise we were still in touch with the leaders
and the car was very reliable”.
had a very enjoyable race and although battling with traffic
after each safety car I was pleased to maintain third place
for a full stint," was Mike's verdict. "This circuit
is very challenging with all the elevation changes and it’s
great to drive the prototype here. I hope we will be able
to make a full commitment to the LMES next year with the
MG by making it our major championship”.
Ramos said “The car felt very good, but its disappointing
not to finish in fourth place, which we more than deserved.
I had problems with radio contact throughout the race and
was unlucky to have to pit so early. I have really enjoyed
driving the MG this year and will hopefully continue with
prototypes next year”.
Barker, Team Manager at RML, had mixed views about the weekend.“The
safety cars worked both for and against us," he said.
"The team coped well with the changing conditions,
continually amending our race strategy as the race developed.
The unscheduled stop cost us fourth place, which is especially
disappointing as we were in such a good position before
then and the car was running strongly."
from an official RML press release. Photographs by Jakob
Ebrey and David Lord of www.dailysportscar.com
note. With a change in regulations at the start of 2004,
the RML MG EX257 was forced to run in LMP1 during its final
competitive season, despite having been designed around
the concept of a secondary sports prototype category. This
gave the car a distinct power disadvantage over its immediate
rivals, and might have been more appropriately seen as racing
within LMP2. RML's performances during 2004 should, perhaps,
be viewed in that light. Subsequent development and engine
changes have allowed the EX257 to remain competitive in
the American Le Mans Series, but RML elected instead to
follow the LMP2 route forwards. After this race at Spa,
the team became one of the first to commit to the all-new
LMP2 Lola chassis that would, at the start of 2005, make
its debut with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos as the MG Lola