Return to the home page Contact the team Privacy policy on this website RML Lola Mazda B08/86
RML AD Group racing with Lola and Mazda
Click here for the latest news from RML AD Group
Information about racing with RML AD Group
Information and galleries for the motorsport media
Sponsorship opportunities with RML AD Group
Shop, downloads and merchandising from team RML AD Group
Ideas and innovations from RML AD Group

Le Mans Series 2011, Round 1, Paul RicardOnce more into the breach

It has been a frenetic month for the team at RML AD Group. The arrival of the new chassis came later than expected, and several gallons of midnight oil were burned in order to ensure that the new Honda Performance Development HPD ARX-01d would be ready for the first event of the year.

Just over a fortnight ago the car made its debut appearance on track for the official pre-season test, also at the Paul Ricard circuit near Marseilles. Up until that point the car had never even turned a wheel, so it was with a blank sheet of paper that Team Manager Phil Barker and his mechanics arrived at Le Castellet on March 9th to prepare for the two days of testing. In that light, the results were impressive. The car never missed a beat, and all three drivers were able to enjoy extended sessions in the cockpit - vital experience ahead of the start of the racing season (Full report here).

Struggling for Air

If any concerns did arise out of that test, they were shared by several other competitors in the LMP2 class, although few can have encountered the depths of frustration experienced by Mike Newton, Thomas Erdos and Ben Collins. While there's little doubt that the ARX chassis is one of the best in the business, the power being released from the engine - or should that be, strangled within it - left the #36 RML car gasping for air along the main straight.

The speed trap figures merely confirmed what the drivers themselves reported - the top-end performance was way short of expectations, and RML AD Group's LMP2 contender was officially the slowest car in a straight line. Outgunned by even the tail-end GTE runners, and comprehensively blown away by the best of the Formula Le Mans cars, a decent lap time was only made possible by the car's remarkable ability through the tighter twists and turns and the skill of her drivers.

RML AD Group, Paul Ricard Test, 2011

Since then the first round of the American Le Mans Series has taken place at Sebring, in America. Governed largely by the same rules and regulations, a similar picture emerged there, with LMP2 cars unable to compete against the LMPC (Formula Le Mans) or quicker GT cars. Reporting on the event, Dailysportscar's Graham Goodwin stated: "LMP2 needs some attention – fast!  All but one of the P2 runners qualified behind an extraordinary LMPC qualifying battle. The alarm bells which rang in LMS testing [at Paul Ricard] should surely be a clarion call to action for the ACO by now – a reversal of a restrictor relaxation for the FLM Orecas simply wasn’t enough." In the twelve-hour race itself, the LMP2 winner claimed 20th overall, while first to take the chequered flag in LMPC finished ninth, and the leading GT car crossed the line tenth.

RML AD Group, Paul Ricard Test, 2011The result at Sebring, combined with the times set at Paul Ricard for the official test, and supported by the reports arising from independent testing elsewhere by LMP2 teams, would all tend to suggest that the regulations governing the relative speeds of the five classes in the Le Mans Series need a radical overhaul, and urgently.

The ACO's intention is that each class should be distinctly and uniquely balanced, with LMP1 fastest overall, followed by LMP2, then FLM (LMPC), and with the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am bringing up the rear. There should be a narrow overlap between the slowest in one class, and the fastest in the next. Using the tools at their disposal, including the overall weight of each car and the power output from the engine (controlled by "restrictors" that determine inlet airflow) the ACO can govern the ultimate pace a car should be able to achieve. There's no denying it's a sorcerer's art, but in this instance, the results demonstrate that the magic has comprehensively failed. While the LMP1 cars are undeniably quickest, the FLM cars have a clear edge over LMP2, and most of the GT cars are faster too.

RML AD Group, Paul Ricard Test, 2011

It is believed that official representations have been made on behalf of the LMP2 teams by several of the engine and chassis manufacturers involved, and some of the teams themselves have also been in discussion with the ACO. It can only be hoped that swift action follows, and the correct status quo is established before the 2011 season develops much further. If not, then LMP2 drivers face the task of being unable to pass the "lower classes" on the straight, and being forced into late-braking derring-do into the corners and overtaking round the bends - a recipe for frayed nerves and potential disaster.

Despite this, a strong entry for LMP2 has been posted for the Paul Ricard Six Heures du Castellet, including several names and faces that will be familiar from 2010.

The Class of 2011

The full entry list for LMP2 and Formula Le Mans is reproduced below. If one is available, clicking on the thumbnail will reveal an enlargement.

36 RML AD Group RML AD Group
United Kingdom
HPD V6 turbo
Tommy Erdos (BRA)
Mike Newton (GBR)
Ben Collins (GBR)
39 Pecon Racing Pecon Racing
Argentina ARG
Lola B11/40
Judd V8
Luis Perez Companc (ARG)
Matias Russo (ARG)
Pierre Kaffer (GER)
40 Race Performance Race Performance
Switzerland SUI
Oreca 03
Judd V8
Michel Frey (CHE)
Ralph Meichtry (CHE)
Thor-Christian Ebbesvik (NOR)
41 Greaves Motorsport Greaves Motorsport
United Kingdom
Zytek Z11SN
Karim Ojjeh (SAU)
Gary Chalandon (GBR)
Tom Kimber-Smith (GBR)
42 Strakka Racing Strakka Racing
United Kingdom
HPD ARX -01d
HPD V6 Turbo
Nick Leventis (GBR)
Danny Watts (GBR)
Jonny Kane (GBR)
43 RLR Motorsport RLR Motorsport
United Kingdom
MG Lola EX265
Judd V8
Barry Gates (GBR)
Rob Garofall (GBR)
Simon Phillips (GBR)
44 Extreme Limute AM Paris Extreme Limite AM Paris

Norma M200P
Judd V8
Fabien Rosier (FRA)
Jean-Marc Luco (CHE)
Maurice Basso (CHE)
45 Boutsen Energy Racing Boutsen Energy Racing
Oreca 03
Dominik Kraihamer (AUT)
Nicolas de Crem (BEL)
46 TDS Racing TDS Racing

Oreca 03
Mathias Beche (CHE)
Pierre Thiriet (FRA)
Jody Firth (GBR)
   Formula Le Mans  
91 Hope Racing Hope Racing

Formula Le Mans
Oreca 09
Luca Moro (ITA)L)
Michael Tinguely (CHE)
Zhang Shanqi (CHN)
92 Neil Garner Motorsport Neil Garner Motorsport
United Kingdom
Formula Le Mans
Oreca 09
John Hartshorne (GBR)
Steve Keating (GBR)
Phil Keen (GBR)
93 Genoa Racing Genoa Racing

Formula Le Mans
Oreca 09
Jens Petersen (GER)
Elton Julian (ECU)
Christian Zugel (GER)
95 Pegasus Racing Pegasus Racing
Formula Le Mans
Oreca 09
Mirco Schultis (GER)
Patrick Simon (GER)
99 JMB Racing JMB Racing
Formula Le Mans
Oreca 09

M = Michelin Tyres, D = Dunlop Tyres

Without exception it's "all change" in LMP2 this year. Fundamental revisions in the regulations (which we outlined here at the end of last season) have meant that last year's LMP2 cars are no longer eligible to race in the same class again - at least, not without substantial modifications.

As a result the ex-RML, now RLR Motorsport MG Lola EX265 (right), which joined the Le Mans Series in 2010 from Hungary onwards, hides a BMW-derived Judd V8 beneath the familiar bodywork. The Greaves Motorsport (formerly Team Bruichladdich) Zytek has replaced the race-designed engine for a production-based Nissan. The Strakka Racing HPD chassis, inherently the same as the one campaigned so impressively in 2010, has swapped the naturally-aspirated V8 for a twin-turbo V6 - an engine that can trace its ancestry, just one generation removed, from the same Honda V6 that powers the company's top-end Accord. It is, of course, now the same specification as the HPD being run by defending champions RML AD Group.

Pecon Racing Lola 2011Elsewhere in the class we see these same engines, or very similar ones built around standard road-car blocks, powering some new racecars. The Pecon Racing Lola is perhaps the most distinctive, with its new-for-2011 regulation "shark's fin" standing proud along its spine. One of the latest breed of "cost-capped" LMP2 cars, this Lola is (some fear) the shape of things to come. Not as pretty as the previous coupé, the car has been built within a tight budget and meets the new rules to the letter. As a result it is gifted a 20 kilogram advantage over the older, updated cars, and has a larger restrictor, so should have more power and pace.

The Oreca 03, as championed by TDS Racing (pictured right, in an all-black pre-livery test) and Race Performance, is another of the "cost-capped" cars, but somehow this 2011 pace-setter seems to have escaped the imposition of a dorsal fin. The explanation from Oreca has been that the chassis was designed before the 2011 regulations were confirmed, but that it is still economically capable of building the car within the constraints of the "cost capped" requirements. However, they claim, the aerodynamics of the chassis might be adversely effected by the addition of a fin, and the added expense of testing whether this was the case would contribute substantially to the final cost of the car. As a result, the price tag would rise, and thus fail to meet the ACO's stipulated cost-cap ceiling.

The French manufacturer appears to have won its case, and with it the 20 kilo dispensation and a set of juicy restrictors. At the official Paul Ricard test, and again at Sebring, the Oreca 03 Nissan proved to be the class act in LMP2, comfortably quickest in the category but, as retirement proved in America, not necessarily the most reliable.

Once again we list the Formula Le Mans cars in close proximity to the LMP2 entrants, and with good reason. Last year the best drivers in FLM, such as Warren Hughes, regularly "mixed it" with the LMP2 mid-field. This year, if the regulations aren't adjusted, they'll eclipse most of them, and end up challenging the leaders. The one to watch is the Neil Garner Racing #92, and especially when young Phil Keen is in the cockpit. The all-British squad should be a contender for the FLM class honours, and perhaps better still.


There are just six LMP1 entries for the opening round of the Le Mans Series this year, with both Peugeot and Audi absent. They are scheduled to appear for Round 2 at Spa, which will also double as Round 2 of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Audi will, it is hoped, debut the new R18 (complete with dorsal fin) in Belgium and, after post-Sebring testing, Peugeot may have every reason to fear the arrival of the new car. It proved very quick indeed, and this at a time when Peugeot's updated 908 is having aerodynamic problems of its own. Several accidents in recent weeks, including a very serious tumble at Paul Ricard (during a private test) suggest that the car is not as stable as the drivers might like.

Aston Martin AMR-ONEWith the big guns absent, a solo AMR-ONE from Aston Martin Racing will challenge a pair of Rebellion Lola Coupés (#12 & 13), a Pescarolo Judd (#16), the Guess Racing Europe Lola Coupé, and the Quifel ASM Zytek 09C. The AMR-ONE (left) is an exciting new arrival, of course, and represents Aston's first own-built challenger for an outright win at Le Mans for many years. The British marque hasn't won the 24 Hours since 1959, but there are high hopes for the new chassis. Unlike Peugeot and Audi, AMR has opted for petrol-power and an open-topped car. The Paul Ricard 6 Hour will be its debut, and the world will be watching.

The presence of the Toyota Motorsports TMG logo on the Rebellion Lolas should not go unremarked, and is another sign of the growing interest in endurance racing from the major manufacturers. Added to the presence of Nissan and Honda in LMP2, and Peugeot, Audi and Aston in LMP1, this is perhaps the highest concentration of "manufacturer" involvement in sportscar racing for many years.

The final mention in dispatches goes to Quifel ASM (below right, #20 ). Having invested in the Zytek chassis, similar to Greaves Motorsport, the Portuguese squad faced the same choice at the end of last season - revise the car, fit a new engine, and stay in LMP2, or retain more of the car, carry out some less costly upgrades, and challenge in LMP1. They chose the latter. After many seasons as front-runners in LMP2, it will be interesting to see how the Pro-Am line-up of Pla and Amaral fare in the harsh world of the upper echelon of sports prototype racing. The duo's first showing, in the pre-season Ricard test, suggests that the pace is there.


Ten GTE-Pro and six GTE-Am entries complete a total grid of 36 for the first Le Mans Series race of the year - a number likely to grow as the season progresses. There is no GT1 this year - not in LMS racing anyway - and instead we have two GTE classes, almost indistinguishable to the naked eye. The only give-away is the colour of the number panels:

LMP1 LMP2 Formula Le Mans GT Pro GT-Am

Beneath the bodywork there are a number of significant differences. Firstly, the GTE-Am cars can employ no more than one professional driver in the line-up (just as LMP2 must have at least one amateur driver) while GTE-Pro cars can be shared by an all-professional squad. There are also technical and mechanical differences, with GTE-Am cars also having to be at least a year old, although certain dispensations have meant that some GTE-Am cars have the potential to be quicker than their GTE-Pro counterparts. As suggested before, performance balancing is a challenging art! Whatever the means, the consequences are clear - the faster GT cars will be as quick. if not quicker, than many of the prototypes.

Support Races

There are three support series to this year's LMS races. The F3 Euroseries is a single seater, open-wheel championship seen as one of the feeder channels for young drivers aspiring towards a future in Formula 1. The Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup is the French equivalent of the popular UK Carrera Cup, and one step down from the international Porsche Supercup. It is a one-make series for Porsche 911 type racecars.

Speed Euroseries 2011. Photo: Peter May, DailysportscarThe Speed EuroSeries is a new addition to the international calendar, having previously been a largely British-based championship, although with close links to the VdeV series on the continent. The championship is seen as a springboard for drivers and teams hoping to move through to a full-blown future in sportscar racing, and features "mini-prototypes" that are often as quick as their bigger cousins in the LMS. With a large grid and some familiar manufacturers, teams and even drivers, this promises to be an exciting and worthy support spectacle to the main event . . . and makes a pleasant change from Transit Vans!

A History of Paul Ricard HTTT

In our preview to last year's race at Le Castellet we compiled a history of the track, and a background to the man, the drink, and the culture. If you'd like to explore that aspect of Paul Ricard, please click this link:

Paul Ricard - A Brief History

Paul Ricard Control Room

A lap of Paul Ricard

The circuit at Paul Ricard is one of the finest in motorsport, and continues to set the standards that all new tracks are expected to achieve. Last year we asked RML’s Andy Wallace to take us on a tour of the track. Andy may not be with the team any longer, but his observations offer a fascinating insight into the circuit:

A Lap of Paul Ricard with Andy Wallace

The Circuit Configuration

For many years the circuit at Le Castellet was the exclusive domain the the Formula 1 teams, who visited the track out of season to carry out testing and development work. Constructed to the latest standards, the track also offers a bewildering array of layout configurations. Over 100 are supposed to be possible. Luckily, the Le Mans Series opts for the most logical, and also one of the fastest. The plan of the circuit below was another feature of our preview in 2010. It shows the principal corners and the track configuration being used by the Le Mans Series, which features the whole uninterrupted length of the Mistral Straight. Click the image to access a full circuit plan (in black and white) at high resolution. If you would prefer this as an EPS file, please request that we email you a copy. (Any use elsewhere must be acknowledged.) Please note that this plan includes the revised pitlane exit and new garage section, which was only introduced in April 2010.

The same view from Google Earth . . .

Click on the image above for a higher resolution image, or use this link to access the Google Earth location directly.

Weekend Schedule

The following schedule is subject to change and the circumstances and events of the day

Thursday 31st March

09:00 18:00      Le Mans Series, Team Signing on, LMS office
09:30 19:30      Le Mans Series, Scrutineering   ACO truck
14:00 18:00      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Adm. Checks/Signing on
14:00 18:00      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Scrutineering
14:00 17:00      Speed Series, Adm. Checks/Signing on Honda race centre
14:00 18:00      Le Mans Series, Driver Signing on, LMS office

Friday 1st April

08:00 12:00      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Adm. Checks/Signing on
08:00 12:00      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Scrutineering
08:00 10:30      Le Mans Series, Scrutineering   ACO truck
08:30 10:00      Le Mans Series, Driver Signing on, LMS office
08:30               Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Drivers’ Briefing
09:00 11:30      Speed Series, Scrutineering, Honda race centre
09:15 10:15      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, First Practice (60')
09:15               F3 EuroSeries, Drivers’ Briefing
10:15               Le Mans Series, Drivers’ Briefing, Briefing Room
11:30               Speed Series, Drivers’ Briefing Honda race centre
10:40 11:40      F3 EuroSeries, Pre-Event Test (60')
10:45               Le Mans Series, Team Managers’ Briefing, Briefing Room
11:55 12:55      Le Mans Series, Free Practice 1 (60')
13:10 14:10      Speed Series, Free Practice (60')
14:25 15:30      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Qualifying (65')
15:45 16:15      F3 EuroSeries, Qualifying (30')
16:30 17:30      Le Mans Series, Free Practice 2 (60')
17:45 18:30     Speed Series, Qualifying (45')
18:30              Michelin Green X Challenge Cocktail Party, Michelin Hospitality

Saturday 2nd April

09:00 10:00      Le Mans Series, Free Practice 3 (60')
10:25 11:05      F3 EuroSeries, Race 1 (Race 1: 40')
11:25 11:45      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Race 1 (Race 2: 20')
11:30 12:30      Le Mans Series, Tyre Marking
12:00 13:30      Speed Series, Race 1 (Race 3: 90')
13:45 14:05      Le Mans Series, Qualifying, LM GTE Pro & LM GTE Am (20')
14:15 14:35      Le Mans Series, Qualifying, LMP1 and LMP2 and FLM (20')
15:00 15:20      F3 EuroSeries, Race 2  (Race 4: 20')
15:35 16:15      Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, Race 2 (Race 5: 40')
16:30 18:00      Speed Series, Race 2 (Race 6: 90'

Sunday 3rd April

08:15 08:45      Speed Series, Race 3 (Race 7: 30')
09:00 09:20      Le Mans Series, Warm up        (20')
09:45 10:15      Le Mans Series, Autograph Session
09:40 10:20      F3 EuroSeries, Race 3 (Race 8: 40')
10:30 11:00      Le Mans Series, Pit Walk (30')
11:15               Le Mans Series, Pitlane opens
11:15               Le Mans Series, Grid Walk
11:30               Le Mans Series, Pitlane closes
11:45               Le Mans Series, Grid Walk ends
11:50               Le Mans Series, Green Flag
12:00 18:00      Le Mans Series, Race (Race 9: 6h+ FL)

Media Coverage

This year TV coverage for the Le Mans Series returns to Motors TV, and the resulting schedule does, at last, offer enthusiasts the chance to follow most of the action on the small screen live.

TV: Live coverage of the race starts at 11.45 CET (10:45 UK time) and follows the race throughout, finishing with a brief round-up and podium ceremony just before 18:15 CET (17:15 UK).

There will also be an hour-long roundup of last season's Le Mans Series to be aired just before the race itself, starting at 10:55 CET (09:55 UK), and then a whole succession of edited highlight broadcasts on Monday and Tuesday. For confirmation of exact timings please check online at Motors TV.

Click jhere to visit the Motors TV website

The current schedule is:

Sunday April 4th (UK times)

09:55 - 10.45 Le Mans Series 2010 review
10.45 - 17.15 Live coverage of the Le Castellet 6 Hours from Paul Ricard

Monday April 5th (UK times)
20:40 - 22.25 Edited highlights from Round 1 of the 2011 LMS from Paul Ricard

Tuesday April 6th (UK times)
00:30 - 02.15 Edited highlights from Round 1 of the 2011 LMS from Paul Ricard

05:20 - 06.00 Brief highlights from Round 1 of the 2011 LMS from Paul Ricard
09:55 - 11.35 Edited highlights from Round 1 of the 2011 LMS from Paul Ricard

14:35 - 16.20 Edited highlights from Round 1 of the 2011 LMS from Paul Ricard

You can also check the Le Mans Series website for a roundup of coverage here.

Radio & On-line: Full coverage of all the weekend's events and happening's will be provided live by those excellent chaps at Radio Le Mans, beginning with Free Practice on Friday. Articles and features about the Le Mans Series, including season previews and interviews, are also available as podcasts from the RLM website. Click the button below for access.

Click here to open the Radio Le Mans home page

Please also note that we will be providing "live" coverage of the race here on To review an example of how detailed this is, please check out our coverage from the Le Castellet 8 Hours in 2010.

Le Mans Series 2011

Round 1 - Paul Ricard
March 31st - April 3rd 2011

Weekend Preview

RML AD Group HPD, Paul Ricard 2011









RML AD Group, Paul Ricard Test, 2011













RML AD Group, Paul Ricard Test, 2011























RML AD Group HPD 2011

Click here to return to the main event menu







RLR Motorsport MG Lola EX265




TDS Racing Oreca Nissan 2011





Pescarolo Judd, Le Mans Series 2011

Rebellion Lola, Le Mans Series 2011

Quifel ASM Zytek LMP1, Le Mans Series 2011



GT-Pro at Paul Ricard 2011



Speed Euroseries 2011. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar


Click here to return to the main event menu













GT-Pro at Paul Ricard








Paul Ricard Circuit






Paul Ricard Circuit






Paul Ricard Circuit






Paul Ricard circuit







Click here to return to the main event menu