ILMC - RML AD Race Report
Imola, July 4, 2011: It takes more than a couple of blown turbos to wipe the smile off Mike Newton's face, and he shared the team's positive outlook on a race in which the final result hid a very encouraging discovery. RML AD Group's preparations for yesterday's Imola 6 Hours had not only been disrupted by the Italian weather, but also carried the legacy of the serious accident sustained at Spa. That had destroyed the team's original HPD ARX-01d chassis, and the squad arrived for Round 3 of the 2011 Le Mans Series after very limited running with the LMS homologated package.
In a bold move on Saturday, between final practice and qualifying, the team made some radical changes to the car's set-up, and it paid dividends - not in outright pace for qualifying, where the car's lack of horsepower continues to restrict top-end performance - but in creating a car that was perfectly suited to racing the Imola track.
"We knew from the times all three drivers set in warm-up that we'd found the right balance for this circuit," said Phil Barker, Team Manager at RML. "In race trim, Ben was straight down to a 1:42 on his first lap, and a 45 from Mike was very encouraging. We had planned on triple-stinting the tyres in the race, and that would have gained us perhaps thirty or forty seconds over the first three stints. It could have made all the difference. Unfortunately, towards the end of the second stint we had the first turbo problem, and that destroyed our strategy." In a carbon-copy of the problems encountered at Le Mans, the car suffered two turbo failures. The first cost the car twelve minutes, but the second was replaced in a little over ten. Although impressive achievements in themselves, the delay dropped the RML AD Group #36 out of contention.