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

From the Archives - RML Team News
Le Mans Endurance Series 2004. Round 4, Spa, September 11-12th 2004.
Official RML Press Release. Issued August 14th 2004

Swansong for MG EX257

RML’s 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 this year.

Saturday's 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.

Tommy 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 against debris.

The 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.

Mike 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.

Mike 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.

He 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.

“I 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”.

“I 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”.

Miguel 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”.

Phil 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."

Text from an official RML press release. Photographs by Jakob Ebrey and David Lord of

Historical 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 EX264.