at Autosport International 2011
was a busy few days at the annual Autosport
Show, staged at the NEC in Birmingham between
the 13th and 16th January. The two trade days
saw thousands of industry visitors, representatives
of the media, racing drivers and people from
all tracks of world motorsport milling around
the busy halls and stands. It was an opportunity
to renew acquaintances, settle deals for the
new season, and catch up on all the news and
gossip. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, the
doors were thrown open to the public, and tens
of thousands of motor racing enthusiasts poured
through the doors.
was well represented, with two examples of
the team's Chevrolet Cruze touring car on display,
and a significant presence on the main Autosport
Stage on the Friday afternoon. Ben Collins,
re-signed as the team's "third" driver for
2011, also had his hands full, taking part
in the celebrity kart race and launching a
new race series - of which more in due course.
Receives "Teamwork" Award
the Wednesday evening, before the show opened,
the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) held
its annual Business Excellence Awards.
RML's CEO Ray Mallock was honoured to be presented
with the 2010
Teamwork Award in
recognition of the Wellingborough-based outfit’s
outstanding record of having secured five championship
wins across all three of its motorsport projects
addition to the LMP2 Le Mans Series drivers'
title, won by Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos,
and the LMS team crown - a just reward for
Phil Barker and his crew - RML also swept
the board in the world of touring cars. The
team's Chevrolets not only won the British
title with Jason Plato, but topped that
with the manufacturer's title for Chevrolet
and individual driver's title for Yvan Muller
in the prestigious World Touring Car Championship.
It had indeed been a memorable year for RML.
MIA awards have been an integral part of the
Autosport International Show since 1995, acknowledging
and celebrating excellence across all levels
of UK motorsport.
There are seven award categories, with the winners
selected as a result of a voting process open
to all the MIA's own members. Taking into account
the notable contributions made to the
industry over the previous twelve months, and
the inspiring achievements of some of the top
names in motorsport, the recipients value these
awards very highly indeed.
is a great honour to receive this award on
the whole team at RML," said Ray
Mallock, founder of RML.
"In many ways, this is the most significant
award from our 2010 campaign in that it recognises
the outstanding success we achieved in five
of the toughest UK, European and international
championships across three disciplines."
if any other organisations have had this level
of success anywhere in the world. RML prides
itself on its core values for success, including
teamwork, integrity and striving
always to be the best through a process of continuous
improvement. 2010 was testament to those
values and I am immensely proud to accept this
accolade on behalf of all at RML. It
is a fitting tribute to their hard work, their
skills and in particular, the team work that
The RML-run Chevrolet Cruze,
entered by Silverline and driven by Jason Plato,
took the BTCC Driver's Title in 2011, and was
featured on the Autoglym stand.
similar WTCC-winning Chevrolet was a prominent feature
of the MIA stand.
AD Group Team on Stage
RML AD Group "team" took to the stage
early in the afternoon of Friday, with Rupert
Manwaring representing RML and accompanied
by Mike Newton, Ben Collins and Thomas
Erdos. It was an opportunity to announce the
team's Le Mans Series and 24 Hours plans for
2011, confirm the rumour that RML would be
pursuing the all-HPD route in 2011, and welcome
Ben Collins back to the fold as a permanent
member of the driver line-up for the new season.
Here is a transcript of the interview:
Gentlemen, and Happy New Year to you. Good
to see you. Mike, I’ll start
with you, as you're closest to me.
Great year for you in 2010, Le Mans Series champions,
much of the same in 2011, you hope?
Mike: Absolutely, yes. After the previous two
years, to get back on top in LMP2 was terrific.
It felt very difficult during 2008 and nine,
but the team did a terrific job on the chassis,
we had total reliability, HPD did an equally
amazing job with the engine, and we had no stops
throughout the whole season. It was great to
pull that result, so we want to come back and
show that we can carry on doing it.
Q. Those young pups at Strakka Racing gave you
a hard time, didn’t they?
Mike: They did, and we knew that they had a
faster chassis, but we knew that, with consistency,
we could potentially prevail, and we did.
Q. You’ve been paired with Tommy for a
number of years now, and you’ve really
come on in racing. Have you learned a lot?
Due to circumstances in 2003, we were both
thrown together in the deep end at fairly short
notice, and without Tommy’s support
and assistance it would have been impossible,
with the steep learning curve, and it’s
been a wonderful experience. I went from very
limited experience in GT cars into Le Mans the
next year, so a very steep learning curve, but
one that’s paid dividends for both of us.
It’s been great working with Tommy, it’s
been a pleasure.
Q. Now, Ben, a lot of eagle-eyed people will recognise
you from your previous life, but we never got
to see what you actually looked like. You’re
doing proper racing now, and joining the team
absolutely. It’s been a great
thing for me. I came in half way through last
season, when these guys had done all the hard
work, to see the boys home and win the championship
in the Le Mans Series. To be back full-time
is a dream come true for me, and to be at the
Le Mans 24 Hours is just incredibly exciting.
been a good few years since I was there. It’s
the greatest race in the world and I think it’s
a fantastic spectator event, but to be with these
two guys, and with RML, Ray Mallock Limited,
such a super team, so efficient and professional.
It’s the right place to be.
Q. It was
not very many years ago since L:MP2 was the
reliability graveyard at Le Mans, There were
lots of problems with the cars, but that problem’s
just gone away completely, hasn’t
Ben: Yes, and it’s hard to keep up with
the regs as well. The car we ran last season
was an LMP2, but that’s effectively this
year’s LMP1. So, really we’re driving
cars that are very similar to the P1 class – they’re
very fast, they have to last six hours for the
shorter races, and 24 hours in the “big
one”. I’ll let Mike explain the new
car and engine package, but last season we ran
with HPD, and they did a fantastic job with that
engine. We have a new engine for this year, which
we hope will be fast and reliable.
Q. Tommy. You’re going to be part of the
mainstay of the team again, in the Le Mans Series,
and at the 24 Hours. It’s an environment
that you love being in.
absolutely. As Ben said, it’s
the greatest race in the world, certainly from
where we stand. There’s nothing like the
feeling of being at Le Mans and competing, and
we’ve obviously been fortunate enough to
have been able to step onto the top of the podium
at Le Mans, and I think that’s what really
drives the whole programme forwards. It’s
the ultimate prize, and we’re very focused
Q. Rupert. From Ray Mallock Racing perspective,
the Le Mans Series is one of a number of feathers
in your bow and 2010 was an extraordinary year
for RML. Everything you touched turned to gold!
Rupert: Yes, you’re right. It was one
of those years, which means we’re under
incredible pressure to do it again. We’re
delighted to be able to defend our titles in
the LMP2 class. As Ben says, the rule changes
have been quite confusing, but I think we’ve
come out with a fantastic package, so hopefully,
we can pull it off again.
Q. Mike. The new car. Tell us a little bit more
you said, the cars are now so much more reliable,
and if you look back to 2005 it was the walking
wounded. In 2010 we did nothing but put fuel,
tyres and drivers in the car. So, having now
got it right, everything’s all
change again! The HPD engine was such a
key factor last year, and although we had a slower
chassis, through what we did to correct it as
a team, we were able to prevail over the ARX
chassis. There are forces at work determined
that we won’t beat the ARX chassis again,
so the easy way of stopping that is that, next
(sic) year, not only are we going to have the
HPD engine, but we’re going to have an
ARX chassis as well.
Q. Ben. What about testing? How much mileage
are you going to get in before the season starts?
great thing about this new car is that we’ll
be able to get into the simulator, which is
incredibly realistic. I’ve yet
to try one of these things, but our competitors
were in and out all last year, and they found
a huge bonus in that. The boys will be getting
the new car very soon, and aiming to get that
ready for February time, to start our testing.
We have the Le Mans test (at Paul Ricard)
in March. So, we will get some time in the car,
which will be a nice change. When I joined (last
season) I was given it in the night, and told
to get on with it. It was a great challenge,
but I didn’t do much more than a few laps
before we were in the middle of a race. So, starting
at the beginning of the season, and being there
from the beginning, doing horrid seats (fitting)
and going testing will be a nice luxury.
I’ve got to ask you a Top Gear question.
Do you mind?
Ben: What do I mind?
Q. Can I ask you a Top
Gear question? Do you
mind? Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Stig,
of course, which some of you will have realised.
Lot of fun?
Ben: It was great fun. Eight years, tearing
round those tracks, trying not to be killed by
the likes of Tom Cruise and David Walliams and
all these other celebrity guests that we had,
and particularly at the end, not to be eaten
by Jeremy Clarkson, when he came after me. I
one thing I always wanted to do as The
which I was unable to do, was go real racing.
We did the Britcar 24 Hours, which was fun,
but the Le Mans 24 Hours is a different kettle
of fish altogether. As a racing driver – with
all of us – our hearts are in competition,
and Le Mans is the ultimate competition, it’s
the ultimate endurance test. We get to do what
we love doing for the longest time possible.
So, if all goes well, we’ll all get about
eight hours in the car driving at 200 miles an
hour, through those trees, and that’s what
it’s all about.
Tommy. Ben mentioned simulation – getting
in the simulator. When you started racing here
in Britain, as a youngster, simulation; computerised “how
does it work” in advance, on a computer
screen, unheard of. “
Tommy. Absolutely, yes. Are you telling me I’m
Q. You look good on it!
But it’s true, we had none of that
when I started racing. I think it’s a great
tool that we have nowadays, and a very cost-effective
tool as well. If you can imagine taking a whole
team, such as the one we operate at RML, to a
racetrack in Europe, it’s a very expensive
exercise, so I think the facility we’re
going to be able to use this year with Wirth
will be a fantastic aid to our programme, but
nothing really beats being on
track and doing the testing there as well, so
yes, we are planning a certain amount of testing.
looking forward to the experience.
Q. Rupert. From an RML perspective; any plans
for expansion? Any more projects in the pipeline?
Rupert: Obviously, we have got our hands fairly full
this year, but as a company, we’re
always looking for new projects, and always positioning
ourselves to win those projects. There are a
couple out there at the moment, and hopefully
we’ll land one during the course of 2011.
look forward to it, so we’ll
be following your progress, chaps, throughout
the year – best of luck to you, thanks
for talking to us; Rupert Manwaring, Ben Collins,
Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton.
official announcement of the HPD
be found here,
while confirmation of Ben's
reappointment is considered in more depth here.
Hover over an image to detect if an enlargement
news from the Show later this week, including
details of that electrifying new championship
launched by Ben on Thursday. . .