RML AD Group heads south to the sun

Following on from the team’s successful shakedown of the new Mazda Lola B08/80 Coupé earlier this month at Snetterton, in snow and fog, RML AD Group headed south for the sun of the Algarve for the squad's first intensive track test of the 2009 season.

In conjunction with Michelin, RML had booked the two-day test (February 18-19) at the exciting Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, half an hour north of the picturesque holiday resort of Portimão. A number of other Le Mans Series and FIA GT teams accepted an invitation to share the test, and all benefited from two days of perfect weather and ideal track conditions.

RML's Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Series winning driver team of Thomas Erdos and AD Group CEO Mike Newton covered a total of nearly 200 laps of the 4.7 kilometre circuit across the two days. Team Manager Phil Barker declared the test to have been a great success. “It’s all gone exceptionally well,” he said. “We managed to fulfil virtually everything we’d had scheduled and worked on getting everything in line with the new engine and aero package. We made changes overnight on Wednesday that allowed us to work on collecting specific data for this track, and I think we’ve achieved a very good foundation for when we return here in August.”

Since the circuit was completed in October last year, the Autódromo has hosted just two major meetings; the final rounds of the Superbike World Championship and the Spanish GT Championship in November, yet the track has already acquired a reputation for being one of the best-designed and most challenging in motorsport.

“Some really clever imagination has gone into the creation of the track,” suggests Thomas Erdos. “The surrounding landscape is the key to the circuit’s appeal. The layout reflects the style of the local roads, which are also a delight to drive! So many racetracks are flat and featureless, but this one exploits the contours of the land to create a circuit that is both physically demanding and technically complex. The changes in elevation are, at times, quite extreme, and will in themselves add their own element of challenge, but I believe this will be a fantastic circuit to race on, especially at night.

The third round of the 2009 Le Mans Series will be staged at the Algarve circuit at the beginning of August, and will feature the season’s only night race. The start is scheduled for 8:00pm, running through to around two o’clock in the morning. More immediately, however, RML AD Group is preparing for the official ACO Le Mans Series test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on 8th and 9th March.