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RML AD Group claims third in LMP2 Qualifying

RML AD Group at Le  Mans 2010. Qualifying. Photo: David DownesRML AD Group’s Lola B09/83 HPD will start from third in LMP2 for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, making it a clean sweep of the qualifying “podium” for Honda Performance Development. Having worked assiduously with the engineers to perfect a race set-up for the car, Brazilian Thomas Erdos came through with a best of 3:39.648 to secure the team’s best grid position since he took pole in 2006.

The priority for the team had been to develop the best possible set-up for the #25 Lola, and then ensure that all three drivers; Mike Newton, Andy Wallace and Tommy Erdos had achieved their personal qualification requirements for the race. Not until the start of the third and final session was Tommy given the green light to go for a quick lap. It was a frenetic period, as teams throughout the 55-car field vied for clear track, all recognising that the conditions would never be better. Having sat fifth in class for most of the previous three sessions, Erdos swept through to secure third. The two HPDs also went quicker than they’d done before, with Danny Watts (Strakka Racing #42, 3:33.079) taking pole from David Brabham (Highcroft Racing #26, 3:34.537) by a second and a half.

“There’s no way we could have challenged a thirty-three, but I’m certain there was more to find, given a clear lap,” said Erdos. “Maybe we could have done a low thirty-seven, but the traffic was just too unpredictable, and we weren’t out there to take risks. Even so, it’s great to be P3 here at Le Mans. The whole team has worked hard for this for the last six months or more, and after all the disappointments of last year, this is the kind of reward they deserve.”

RML AD Group at Le  Mans 2010. Qualifying. Photo: David LordA smile has been spreading steadily across team manager Phil Barker’s face since the first podium at Paul Ricard in April, and now it was broader still. “This has been a good day’s work, and I’m very happy with the way things have developed,” he said. “Critically, we have an excellent race set-up now. We ran in full race trim tonight, and all the drivers have said how very happy they are with the way the car is performing. Given that they’ll be spending twenty-four hours in that cockpit from Saturday, that’s a great position to be in.”

“I’m really comfortable with the car,” confirmed Andy Wallace, here at Le Mans for his 21st start in the 24 Hours. “As usual, the guys at RML have done a terrific job of setting up and preparing an excellent racecar. We knew the HPDs were always going to be quick, and third was probably as good as it was likely to get for us in qualifying, so we’re exactly where we expected – or hoped - to be. We now know what we face, and on likely race pace, I think we’re in a very strong position.”

Mike Newton had a frustrating evening, being pitched into a spin through the Esses by one of the works Audis, and then finding a slippery patch into the Ford Chicane. “I was just caught out by the damp and bounced across the gravel. The session was almost over anyway, so I decided to press on and head for the pitlane. I was two seconds up on my previous lap, but I’d done my required laps in the dark, and the basic pace was there, so I was happy to get back to the garage, no foul, no harm done.”

RML AD Group at Le  Mans 2010. Qualifying. Photo: David Lord“That was a brilliant lap from Tommy,” declared Pauline Norstrom, Marketing and Motorsport Director at AD Group. “We recognised the enormous challenge we faced in chasing the HPDs, so we’re delighted to be third in the field. The engine performance has been impressive and a very pleasant change for us after the difficulties of 2009. There’s an air of optimism in the team now, and getting podiums at Paul Ricard and Spa has been a huge confidence boost for everyone. The performance from all three drivers has been very encouraging, and they’ve kept enough in reserve for us to feel that we have excellent prospects for the race this weekend.”

The team will be completing their preparations for the race today. “It will be a sensible day for us, with no issues to concern us,” said Phil Barker. “There’s a new race engine and gearbox to fit, fresh suspension, and a full monty rebuild, but without the pressure of any unaddressed problems it should be fairly relaxed.”

Click any thumbnail for an enlargement.
Please credit top photo to David Downes / Dailysportscar and photos 2 and 3 to David Lord / Dailysportscar

For further information, please contact:
: Rupert Manwaring, Sponsorship & Marketing Director
Telephone: +44 (0)1933 402440
AD Group: Pauline Norstrom, Director of Worldwide Marketing. Telephone: +44 (0)1928 706 449

For additional images, please view the dedicated Le Mans Gallery.

Le Mans 24 Hours 2010

Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France
June 11th 2010

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar

























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