Mans Series 2011
Team RLR at Imola, Round 3
Issued Sunday July 3rd 2011
Team RLR Takes Positives from Imola Outing
Despite having their bid for a third consecutive top five class
finish derailed in the searing heat of the 6 Hours of Imola
today, both Team RLR management & drivers were upbeat about the
progress the squad has made heading into the second half of the
2011 Le Mans Series season.
The weekend had begun full of promise for the British outfit,
with a productive test programme prior to the race giving the
team confidence it could once again challenge the established
names in the championship in front of the enthusiastic Italian
However, unusually the team suffered from a series of mechanical
issues that ultimately meant it failed to maintain its 100%
finish record in 2011.
After making an excellent start to the race in the MG Lola EX265,
on the second lap Rob Garofall suddenly felt the steering lock up
while driving well in excess of 100mph. While it came back on
line quickly enough to allow him to avoid an accident and nurse
the car back to the pits, the problem required the full steering
rack to be changed and cost the team almost a full hour in the
With the early setback having left Team RLR with an
insurmountable deficit to make up and the prospect of racing for
position out of the question, the focus turned to providing
productive seat time for the drivers.
Having solved the steering problem Team RLR's well drilled pit
crew sent the car back onto the track with Simon Phillips behind
the wheel. The London based driver quickly settled in and
consistently posted some of his best times around the 4.9km
Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
The stormy weather that drenched the circuit on Friday was by now
a distant memory, and when Barry Gates climbed into the MG Lola
EX265 just before the halfway point of the race the track
temperature was nudging 34 degrees Celsius.
Gates ran a clean and quick double stint before pitting to hand
over to Phillips once again. During the stop it became apparent
there was an issue with the alternator that had to be remedied,
costing the team a further 20 minutes while the job was carried
After Phillips had clocked up more valuable mileage Gates was set
to take over and close the race out, but another niggling problem
reared its head with the gearbox and the decision was taken to
retire with around 25 minutes of the six hour event remaining.
Despite enduring a frustrating day at the office all three
drivers reported the car to be excellent to drive when on
circuit, and felt the progress the team had seen in testing had
been successfully translated into the race setup.
Team RLR will now analyse the data from Imola before devising a
strategy to bounce back strongly to competitive action at the
next round and 'home' event for the team at Silverstone on
Nick Reynolds, Team RLR team principal, said:
"I felt we had a great chance to secure a big result here coming
into the weekend, but unfortunately that was put beyond our reach
very early in the race. On the plus side the guys did feel the
benefit of the improvements we have made to the car recently.
Simon and Barry both took a lot from their time on track today so
it's certainly not been a wasted journey. The more miles we do
the more we all learn, and I'm very confident we can successfully
work through the issues we had here today."
Barry Gates, Team RLR driver, said:
"Obviously it was frustrating to not be able to race for position
after what happened in the opening stages, especially as the car
was great today and really enjoyable to drive. It was perfectly
balanced, and while other cars still have much more power than us
in a straight line we were able to make up some time through the
corners. It's actually a very demanding track Imola as you're
always working hard, there's nowhere you can afford to stop
concentrating. It didn't help that the steering wheel was not
quite straight after the incident, but it didn't affect the
performance of the car at all."
Rob Garofall, Team RLR driver, said:
"Well there's not a lot you can say when something like that
happens after two laps. I got a good start and went to change
direction going into the chicane and the steering just locked,
which was a bit worrying as I was carrying a fair bit of speed.
Thankfully it started working again and I caught it, but it felt
all wrong. We decided to bring it in and fix it rather than risk
damaging the car even more if it went again at the wrong place.
We had four or five hours of clean running in practice and
qualifying this weekend with no problems, so it's not easy when
you then get an issue on lap two of the race."
Simon Phillips, Team RLR driver, said:
"It was very hot out there which made it really hard work today,
but I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a shame what happened to
the car early on but these things happen sometimes in racing.
After that it was just a question of having the right mindset and
go as quickly as possible without compromising anyone else's
race. The car felt really alive and it's a fantastic track to
drive, so I just worked hard on my lap times and ensured I
brought the car back in good shape."
high resolution images from the test, visit the Imola
Race Weekend Gallery.
Click here to see the final classification for the 6 Hours of
To find out more about Team RLR and its Le Mans Series campaign
log on to: www.rlrrmotorsport.com
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