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RML AD Group Rising to the Challenge

Tommy Erdos, RML AD Group. Nürburgring Qualifying. Photo: David Lord, DailysportscarAs the Le Mans Series reaches the penultimate round of the 2009 season, RML AD Group is rising to meet the challenge of an intensely competitive LMP2 class. After engine problems caused the team’s Lola B08/86 to miss out on classified finishes in the opening two rounds, Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos took sixth in the last round in the Algarve. They arrived in Germany for this weekend’s Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres hoping for better, and emerged fastest in Friday’s evening Free Practice session, and then second quickest in class on Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, Tommy's qualifying run didn't go to plan after he faced a recurrent problem with a slower LMP1 car that effectively undermined his chances, and the best he could achieve was fifth.

Mike Newton, RML AD Group. Nürburgring Free Practice. Photo: David Downes, DailysportscarThe problem came right at the start of the session, when Tommy queued up at the pitlane exit behind the Scuderia Lavaggi LMP1. The Lola Mazda was evidently much quicker over a complete lap than the LMP1 prototype, but try as Tommy might, his attempts to pass were rebuffed.

“I dropped back so far before the start of my first flyer that I couldn’t believe I could possibly catch him up again within a single lap, but three times I did exactly that, and every time I was back on his tail before the finish line. Once there, I just couldn’t get past. The Lavaggi has the more powerful LMP1 engine, and has a fair turn of speed down the straights, but simply hasn’t got the pace through the corners, where the Lola is so good. Even though I was clearly faster than him, he wouldn’t let me past. The driver did apologise to me afterwards, but by then it was too late.”

“It has been a very trying season,” admitted the Brazilian. “In practice and qualifying, and even in the races themselves, we’ve repeatedly demonstrated that we’re probably the only team with the pace to challenge the Quifel ASM car. It’s hard on the guys when we miss out on another chance to demonstrate what a great car they’ve put together for us. Over the last couple of days we’ve been consistently the quickest Lola, and with the results we achieved in Free Practice, I think we were quite right to feel a bit pumped-up about qualifying.”

Tommy Erdos, RML AD Group. Nürburgring Qualifying. Photo: David Lord, DailysportscarAlthough Tommy’s tyres were still in good shape, the Lola was running low on fuel. “We’d wasted so many laps that I hadn’t enough fuel left for the end of the session, and had to come into the pits for a quick splash,” explained Tommy. “That left me time for one more stab at a quick lap, and at least the tyres were still relatively fresh.” Unfortunately, yellow flags through Turn Five meant he could not exploit his last run, and had to be content with fifth-fastest.

“The problems we encountered with track position cost us three or four laps, and that took the best out of the tyres, so we missed out on the second or third place we perhaps should have had on relative pace,” suggested Mike Newton, CEO of AD Group and Tommy’s co-driver. “After the third Free Practice session we had looked to have a good chance of being on the front row of LMP2, quite comfortably even, and maybe challenging for pole, but it was not to be.”

Such post-qualifying philosophy was understandable, but by the time the official grid for the race was published several hours later, matters had changed. With at least six other cars suffering position penalties, either under the replacement engine ruling, or as a result of fitting new tyres, the RML Lola Mazda will line up from 12th place overall, third in LMP2. The race is scheduled to begin at 12:30pm Central European Time.

Please click on any of the images above to access higher resolution versions. Photographs 1& 3 must be credited to: David Lord / Dailysportscar. Photograph 2, please credit to: David Downes / Dailysportscar

These images, and others, are also available through the Nürburgring gallery.

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

Le Mans Series 2009

Round 4. Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres.
August 22nd 2009
Post-Qualifying Press Release

RML AD Group, Nürburgring 2009. Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar















RML AD Group, Nürburgring 2009. Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC