Race Report 01 - Still in the Hunt. June 16th 2007
Still in the Hunt
Despite a series of mishaps, the RML MG
Lola EX264 is still in the race, thanks wholly to an extraordinary
team effort from the pit crew.
At 18:55, during Andy Wallace’s
first stint, the MG was pitched into the tyre wall at the
beginning of the Porsche Curves. The exact cause has yet
to be determined, but the impact was heavy, twisting the
car around and effectively damaging all four corners. “The
car just snapped away from me,” said Wallace. “There
was absolutely nothing I could do. At first I thought we
were out of the race, the damage looked so bad.” Hauled
free of the gravel by the marshals, Andy was able to establish
that the car might still be driveable. The engine fired
up easily and he began the slow crawl back to the pitlane.
The journey took Andy 13 minutes. Unable
to steer effectively, and with the engine temperature rising
steadily, it was only thanks to his skill and mechanical
understanding that the MG was brought back to the pitlane
without further damage.
The car arrived outside the garage at 19:08,
and the engineers and mechanics set-to straight away in
affecting a full repair. All but two of the original body
panels were beyond immediate use, including both sections
of undertray, the sidepods, engine cover and main front
panel. Over the course of the next 50 minutes the team rebuilt
both front suspension assemblies completely, as well as
checked, replaced or overhauled the cooling system, front
brakes and a number of ancillary components. By half-past
seven the car was coming back together again, and at 19:56
the engine could be restarted and the wheels once again
touched the floor.
The teamwork displayed by the RML crew was
exemplary. Although carried out at a remarkable speed, all
the work was executed with characteristic thoroughness.
Despite the noise of the race continuing outside, there
was almost total silence within the garage: members of the
crew working methodically through their tasks.
At eight o’clock exactly, just 65
minutes after Andy Wallace made contact with the tyre wall,
Mike Newton was being strapped into the MG’s cockpit,
the car had been refuelled, and he was heading back out
onto the circuit. The delay had cost the #25 MG eighteen
laps, and the car now stood “dead last”, as
Ray Mallock observed.
in his stint, at about five o’clock, Andy had experienced
a total loss of power from the MG’s AER turbocharged
engine. Once again, his experience of 18 previous Le Mans
races paid dividends. Able to identify the fault, he switched
to an auxiliary crank trigger system, restarted the engine,
and returned to the pitlane. A quick check revealed no further
problems, and he was able to continue the race.
one stage the #25 MG EX264 had been lying second in LMP2.
It currently stands 9th, 46th overall, with Mike Newton
having made up four positions.
high resolution gallery
is now posted.