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RML AD Group Lola Mazda B08/86 (2009)

RML AD Group's sports prototype programme entered a new era in late 2008, with confirmation on 6th November that the team had signed a deal with the Japanese car manufacturer Mazda for the supply of engines.

RML AD Group Lola Mazda B09/86The announcement (reported here) brought to a close a six-year relationship with the iconic British marque, MG, but heralded a new phase for what was already one of the longest-lasting partnerships in motor racing.

The personnel at the heart of the programme had remained essentially the same since the red, white and blue Lola first took to the track in November 2003. These included not only the two drivers; Mike Newton, CEO of AD Group, and Thomas Erdos, but also Team Manager Phil Barker and more than half the engineers and mechanics in the squad.

If the faces had remained more or less constant, the cars they'd worked on had not. Evolution and development had enabled Mike and Tommy to remain at the forefront of LMP2 competition, and the 2009 steed in the stable was no exception, at least in terms of pace and performance.

RML AD Group Lola Mazda B09/86 at first roll-out, SnettertonBased on the latest Lola chassis, the RML Lola Mazda embodied all the most up-to-date developments in aerodynamics, composite technology and chassis design, but with the added benefit of knowledge gleaned from six highly-successful years in endurance motorsport. RML has all the technical abilities and resources to carry out extensive independent development, as befits a company that has designed and created cars of its own from the ground up, such as the Saleen S7, and has engineered major racing programmes for leading manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Mercedes, Vauxhall, Honda and Aston Martin.

The expertise and understanding that brought two back-to-back class victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours were applied to the RML Lola Mazda, and many of the refinements that gave the MGs their superlative handling were carried over to the new car. These included specific components intended to help the car and its drivers cope with endurance events of six, ten or twenty-four hour duration, including reserve alternators and starter motors, mechanical gearchange back-up to the sophisticated steering-wheel mounted paddle-shift installation, advanced on-board telemetry, live-feed video monitoring equipment, and several instances of dual and tandem electronic and other essential systems.

RML AD Group Lola Mazda B09/86 at first roll-out, Snetterton

The RML AD Group's Lola B08/80 chassis first saw competition in September 2008, badged as the last-ever MG racing car, the EX265C. Only a few days after its initial roll-out at Snetterton, the new car finished fourth in class in the Silverstone 1000 Kilometres. It would be the first and only time that the EX265C would race in earnest. Six weeks later the news was confirmed that RML's new coupé would move into 2009 with a Mazda engine.

The unit under the engine cover was a two-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder unit developed jointly by Mazda and Advanced Engine Research, AER. The immediate benefits of this unit to RML were its size - it had similar proportions to the former MG XP-21 unit, although was even more compact - and the fact that, unlike the XP-21, the Mazda MZR-R was in the early stages of development. in theory, this meant it offered greater scope for refinement and enhanced performance over the seasons ahead. Furthermore, the AER support personnel that had worked with RML since 2006 remained the same, perpetuating an excellent working relationship.

When first delivered to RML, the chassis was designated a B08/80. However, concurrent with the installation of the new Mazda engine, the car also benefited from the implementation of the full 2009 specification aerodynamic package and revised bodywork. This had been developed by Lola in Huntingdon in response to changes in the racing regulations between 2008 and 2009, including the reduction in width of the rear wing. As a result the car could equally be designated as a Lola Mazda B09/86, the eighty-six being used by Lola to identify any Mazda-powered chassis.

Ultimately, the high expectations were never realised. Although undeniably quick, and with excellent handling characteristics, the turbocharged Mazda AER engine suffered from an underlying incompatibility with the regulation fuel supplied by the race organisers. In common with all other turbocharged units employed during the 2009 season, the RML engine suffered repeated engine failures, and only once completed a race. It was a bitterly disappointing season for the team, and would eventually result in the decision to return to a naturally aspirated engine.

RML AD Group Lola Mazda B09/86

RML AD Group racing with Lola

Designation Lola Mazda B08/86
Mazda MZR-R 2.0 litre, turbocharged four-cylinder
Approximately 500bhp through one x 40.6mm restrictor
Top speed
In excess of 200mph
6-speed semi-automatic sequential via paddle-shift
Carbon, pull type
Aluminium water radiators and oil coolers
One piece carbon fibre monocoque
Power assisted rack-and-pinion
Fabricated steel double wishbones
355mm x 32mm front and rear, Carbon fibre discs, carbon fibre pads
Forged Magnesium Fronts 18"x12.5J, Rears 18"x13J
Michelin. Fronts 300/650-18, Rears 310/710-18
Length, 4534mm; Width, 1990mm; Wheelbase, 2790mm
Weight Minimum 825 kgs
Fuel, 80 litres, Oil (dry sump) 10 litres











RML AD Group racing with Lola