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RML Team News
The MGCC Silverstone International Weekend. Issued June 28th 2006

Battered but Unbeaten

The RML MG Lola EX264 was back on show again last weekend for the annual MG Car Club Silverstone International Weekend. Now in its 56th year, the MGCC gathering is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, and RML was especially honoured to be invited to display the EX264 in the main pavilion, where the Le Mans-winning car enjoyed centre stage.

Unwashed since its dominant class victory, the car bore all the battle-stains of twenty-four hard-fought hours, with the brake-dust, rubber smuts and the general grime of having persevered through 343 laps of the Le Mans circuit still very much in evidence.

The organisers had been quick off the mark with a feature in the official programme, having actually held the printing presses just in case the EX264 repeated its class-winning run, which it duly did! A photograph from qualifying was included, alongside some generous congratulatory editorial. Mention was also made of the recent launch of RML’s X-Power retail division (see news item here), and interest from MG enthusiasts, present in their thousands at the event, suggested that the new venture has a promising future.

A special edition of the team’s Le Mans A4 “HeroCard” had been printed to mark the achievement of winning the LMP2 class at Le Mans for the second successive year, and the MGCC had also published a celebratory A3 poster. On the Saturday afternoon Mike Newton, CEO of AD Group and the man who drove the EX264 across the finishing line at Le Mans, was on hand to sign autographs and answer questions.

Being in the middle of a large open space gave many people their first chance to examine the EX264 at close quarters, with serious archivists keen to make a note of chassis numbers and other technical details. (For those who missed it, the race-winning EX264 is chassis 005). This also revealed two areas of minor damage sustained during the twenty-four hours. One, which was tactfully hidden beneath white duct tape, involved the extreme left-hand corner of the nose section, where a GT2 Porsche had “stepped on it”, according to Mike, after one of the safety-car restarts. The other was slightly macabre, and also remarkably fortunate. During his lengthy three-hour night stint, Thomas Erdos had been traveling at over 170 mph along the Mulsanne when a bird flew directly across his path. It missed his face by less than six inches, and slammed into the “passenger” rollhoop just beside his head. The carbon fibre split under the impact and, in a slightly grisly twist, the tips of the bird’s feathers remained trapped within the crack . . . but what became of the bird itself? “We haven’t had a chance to investigate yet,” said Mike, “but we suspect it may still be inside!” We’ll not know for sure until the team begins the full rebuild this week ahead of the next race at the Nurburgring in July.

Asked about the future, Mike was typically candid. What are the plans for 2007? “We’ll try to do the hat-trick, of course!” he laughed. “The two wins so far have been so very different. The first was totally exhausting; with all the ups and downs we endured (read the full story here). The emotion this time was a complete contrast, and an hour from the end, the wonder was whether we could win again without the hand of fate intervening. That last hour was the most nervous of the race.” What had it been like to drive the car over the finishing line? “That was a fantastic experience. Unfortunately, I was still fighting for eighth place on that last lap, despite the marshals all across the track, and I was concentrating so hard on the race that I didn’t have much chance to sit back and savour the finish.”

Having won the class, RML receives an automatic entry to the 24 Hours in 2007. “As a team, we’ll certainly be back,” insisted Mike. “How we approach the race next year will depend a great deal on what we have to do to the car in order to compete with the likes of Porsche, but I’m not sure our aspirations run to LMP1.” Although the new Porsche LMP2 RS Spyder has raced successfully, winning outright in the American Le Mans Series, it has demonstrated a fragility that is unusual for Porsche, perhaps accounting for the factory’s decision not to enter a team at Le Mans this year. Next year may be a different matter.

On Sunday the RML EX264 was visited by a delegation from the Nanjing Automotive Corporation in China. The new owners of the MG brand had recently issued a statement reassuring the MGCC of the secure future of the marque, and the imminent return of models bearing the famous octagon badge to the UK and world markets. They expressed considerable interest in the RML MG EX264, and it is hoped that representatives from NAC will be able to witness the car in action later this season.

Further information and photographs from the 56th MGCC Silverstone International Weekend can be found by visiting the official website at