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Le Mans Series 2007
Round 5. Silverstone 1000 Kilometers. September 14th - 16th 2007
Race Press Release. Issued September 17th 2007

Down to the Wire

Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos claimed a valiant fourth-placed finish in Round 5 of the 2007 Le Mans Series, and by doing so they retain a six-point advantage in the race for the LMP2 crown.

It was another frustrating race for RML. Their nearest rivals for the title finished just one place ahead of them on the day, narrowing the gap between them by a single point, but it had only taken a minor incident early in the race to deny RML another second-place at the flag - or perhaps a third consecutive win. In the end the final outcome came down to a chance touch between the MG’s rear left tyre and the front splitter of a GT1 car that Tommy Erdos had just lapped. The resulting puncture ripped away a small part of the bodywork, but making good the repairs cost the team six valuable minutes in the pitlane.

Up until that point the race had steadily fallen RML’s way. A mature and well-measured start by Thomas Erdos had seen the #25 MG through onto the tail of the LMP2 class leader, despite strong challenges from newcomers LNT, with a works-prepared Zytek 07S driven by Danny Watts, and an on-form Quifel-ASM Lola. Then, having closed to within tenths of snatching the lead from Miguel de Castro, the slightest tap from a tail-ender sent the MG back to the pits.

An initial repair proved quick but, in the longer term, ineffectual. At the end of what proved to be a third stint for Thomas Erdos, permanent repairs had to be carried out, and by the time Mike Newton resumed the race the MG had fallen back to ninth in class. This heralded another of those stirring fight-backs that have, of necessity, become a trial of RML’s character time and again over the past three seasons. Mike rallied strongly, and began the task of clawing back lost ground. He entered into a determined battle with the Binnie Motorsports Lola – repeatedly challenging for the position, but each time finding his route hindered by backmarkers or, on one occasion, a sizeable chunk of debris that had the MG airborne and put Mike’s skills as a pilot to the test.

Mike not only regained two places on track but also recovered a significant amount of time, and Thomas Erdos was able to build upon those strong foundations for the final sixty minutes. The Brazilian drove superbly, not only passing the Binnie Lola, but two other LMP2 rivals as well, and took the chequered flag fourth in class. “Both drivers did a brilliant job,” said Phil Barker, Team Manager for RML. “Mike rose to the challenge. I had to badger him a little, but he responded well, dug deep and did everything I asked of him. Tommy was then able to take the battle to Eric (van de Poele) and get the better of him, thanks to Mike’s efforts.”

It was indeed “a great save!” as Mike commented, and a crucial one for the championship. Adam Wiseberg, Motorsport Director of AD Group, principal partners in the RML sportscar programme, was full of praise for the way the team had rallied round. “We had some problems here today,” added Wiseberg, “but we overcame them in typical RML AD Group fashion. We certainly achieved a far better result than we might have thought possible a couple of hours into the race, and as usual, both drivers gave a sterling performance. Despite some sense of frustration, we are really pleased with what they’ve achieved. We’re still six points clear for the title, and only the Quifel-ASM Lola could now catch us.”

The overall classification after Silverstone shows RML’s Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos heading LMP2 on 36 points, with 30 points for Quifel-ASM. The Saulnier Racing trio of drivers, third on 23, can no longer challenge for the title. In GT2 the championship was settled, with Virgo Motorsport’s Robert Bell taking the crown after regular co-driver Allan Simonsen missed the race. Three squads remain in contention in each of LMP1 and GT1.

LMP2 Results

Pos No. O/all Team Driver Car
Best Lap
5 Barazi Epsilon Vergers/Ojeh/Barazi Zytek 07S
7 Team LNT Kimber-Smith/Watts Zytek 07S
8 Quifel ASM Amaral/de Castro/Burgueno Lola B05/40 AER
9 RML AD Group Erdos/Newton MG Lola EX264
10 Binnie Motorsports Binnie/Timpany/Buncombe Lola B05/40 Zytek
11 Saulnier Racing Nicolet/Filhol/Jouanny Courage LC75 AER
14 Bruichladdich Moseley/Greaves Radical SR9 AER
16 Embassy Racing Hughes/Manning/Cunningham Radical SR9 AER
      Not classified:        
N/C Horag Racing Lienhard/Theys/Van de Poele Lola B05/40 Judd
N/C Pierre Bruneau Rostan/Bruneau/Pullan Pillbeam MP93 Judd
DNS Ranieri Randaccio Randaccio/Lavaggi Lucchini McLaren

High resolution images from Silverstone may be viewed and downloaded from the dedicated gallery.