The 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 Racing.
"This 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!"
Third 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.
On 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.
Mike 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