Returns to the Le Mans Podium
RML AD Group Lola HPD, driven by Mike Newton,
Thomas Erdos and Andy Wallace, added another
Le Mans LMP2 podium to their tally by finishing
third in this year's 78th Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team won the class in 2005 and 2006, but
despite a near perfect run last weekend, couldn't
match the outright pace of 2010 winners Strakka
has been a great team effort," said Phil
Barker, Team Manager at RML. "It was good
to get back on the podium again after a gap
of three years. We know what it takes to win
at Le Mans, and we also know how it feels to
lose. Le Mans is all about the detail - preparation
and planning - and having a good team behind
you. It's also about thinking on your feet,
and adapting quickly to the unexpected. This
year, aside from an issue with the dashboard
right at the start, the car ran faultlessly
all the way. We had a very good set-up, and
that made it easy for us to triple-stint the
Dunlop tyres. They were still immaculate when
they came off, and our technicians even suggested
they could have stayed on longer!"
was where the car started, and that's where
it finished, but in between stood twenty-four
hours of drama and thrilling action. Tommy Erdos
took the opening stint and held his grid position
through a clean and tidy start. He then prepared
to chase the two cars ahead of him, but instead
found himself battling with a faulty dashboard
display that was making driving increasingly
challenging. An accident for Nigel Mansell in
the Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek gave the
team the break they needed, and an unscheduled
stop under the safety car had the dash repaired,
but left Tommy in a lowly 46th place overall.
the restart he powered through to 26th inside
the first lap, weaving between the slower cars
as he fought to catch the LMP2 tail-enders.
There he met the stiffer resistance of the other
prototypes, but on the hour he'd recovered fifth
in LMP2 and 23rd overall. Two hours in and Tommy
Erdos claimed fourth, but more critically he
was still on the lead lap.
Newton drove second stint, dropping just one
place on the pitstop before consolidating the
position over the next two hours and handing
the #25 Lola HPD across to Andy Wallace for
a triple stint. Smooth and always consistent,
Wallace pressed on to half-eight and the swap
with Tommy. The Brazilian then took the difficult
stint from dusk through to midnight and a driver-change
with Mike Newton.
the hours of darkness the Lola remained in contention,
repeatedly knocking at the door of fourth. Another
triple stint from Thomas Erdos saw the car safely
through dawn and into the bright sunshine of
a new day, picking up a fastest lap of 3:37.921
along the way.
double stint from Mike Newton, followed by another
triple from Wallace, brought Erdos back into
the car with four hours to go. Still running
fourth in LMP2, misfortune for the #26 Highcroft
HPD rewarded RML AD Group with a first glimpse
of a podium finish. With no chance of catching
second, the final three stints were driven at
a more conservative pace, with Erdos, then Wallace,
and finally Mike Newton, taking care to ensure
a strong and untroubled journey to the flag.
The class win went to Strakka Racing, with Oak
second and RML AD Group third, eighth overall.
believe this has been a triumph for RML, and
even more so than our previous two wins,"
insisted Thomas Erdos. "When we won in
2005, although less-so in 2006, luck played
a big part in the result. This year the class
has moved on, and we were up against very strong,
equally reliable competition. To finish third
against such top quality opposition demanded
great skill, planning and commitment, and I
believe this has been our finest race. I'm so
proud of the team. The car was faultless and
it did everything we asked of it."
Wallace, one of the best-known drivers in the
sport, was delighted. "You can't buy 24
Hour trophies in the supermarket," he said.
"You have to earn them! Having another
of these trophies is very special indeed, but
we had to fight hard to get there. The whole
team performed brilliantly and the car ran like
clockwork, but that's not by accident. That's
the result of meticulous preparation, with systems
and people all working together."
is a new package for us, with Lola and HPD,
yet we've had three podiums from three races,"
stated Mike Newton. "Yes, it might have
been nice to be on the top step, but we were
running a genuine pro-am team and some of the
others were always going to have the edge on
pace. However, we believed that as long as we
were reliable and stayed out of trouble we'd
be there at the end. The trouble was, the other
teams were reliable too. P2 is a very different
category these days, compared to a few years
ago. To have five cars in the top ten suggests
that the idea P2 should be considered fragile
has to be revised."
absolutely over the moon!" said Pauline
Norstrom, Motorsport & Marketing Director
of AD Group. "That was a good, clean and
consistent run from all three drivers. They
made no mistakes and kept out of trouble in
a race that had more than it's share of challenges,
including accidents, punctures, debris and oil
on the track, any one of which could have caused
us delays or problems. A combination of tremendous
skill and excellent communication kept everything
together in difficult circumstances."
this, our flagship event of the season, we're
delighted for the guests of AD Group, who have
been so impressed by the team's professionalism,
planning and strategy. These are characteristics
that we hope they can associate with our own
business and our video surveillance technology.
I would just like to congratulate the team on
their immense commitment and to thank them for
delivering such a tremendous result for us."
team also expressed their appreciation for Strakka
Racing's performance. "They ran an excellent
race, and it would have been a travesty if they
hadn't won," said Tommy. "Nick surprised
a lot of people by driving such a good race,"
added Mike. "He was on the pace, kept out
of trouble, and like the whole of his team,
he deserves to be congratulated."
team's next race will be in the Algarve, Portugal,
any thumbnail for an enlargement.
Please credit podium photos to David Lord
/ Dailysportscar and track photos to David
Blumlein / Studio 21
further information, please contact:
Manwaring, Sponsorship & Marketing Director
Telephone: +44 (0)1933 402440
AD Group: Pauline
Norstrom, Director of Worldwide Marketing.
Telephone: +44 (0)1928 706 449
these and other images, please view the dedicated
Le Mans Gallery.