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This archive remains exactly as it was written in June 2005, and no tenses have been altered.


The build-up to this weekend's race hasn't all been trackside for the RML squad, and there have been some significant events that haven't directly involved the MG Lola EX264.

MGA PhotoCall

On Thursday morning the three drivers were on call for a very special photo event at the chateau just north of Le Mans where they've been staying. More by coincidence than planning, the Chateau Chene du Coeur near Saint Pavace is the same chateau that was used by the MG works team in 1955, exactly fifty years ago. That staging of the Le Mans 24 Hours is perhaps most vividly recalled for all the wrong reasons, for it was during the course of that running of the race that the most tragic of all motor racing accidents occurred. On Saturday June 11th the Mercedes of Pierre Levegh collided with the back of Lance Macklin Austin Healey as the two cars neared the entrance to the pitlane, roughly where the Ford Chicane is today. The Mercedes was launched up the sloping rear of the Healey like a Harrier from the deck of an aircraft carrier, barrel-rolled across the top of the banking, and ended up in the middle of the crowd. Sventy-nine spectators were killed either directly by the car or as a result of being hit by debris from the impact. In the climate of the day, the race was not stopped, although the Mercedes team did withdraw later that night, and Mike Hawthorn in a Jaguar D Type went on to win.

The three MGs also carried on racing, with the best of these finishing the 24 Hours in 12th place overall, with a second 17th. To commemorate this more auspicious achievement, the MGA Owners Club returned to the Chateau on the fiftieth anniversary. Almost thirty MGA's lined up on the gravelled driveway, including a pair of exacting replicas of two of the racecars. A third was unable to attend after being prevented from leaving the Le Mans paddock, where it has been taking part in the Legends event this weekend. Also unable to make the journey after falling foul of a power steering fault back in England, was the faithful recreation of the original race transporter, although five MG enthusiasts did make a splendid sight, dressed in authentic period overalls. It had been hoped to re-stage one of the original 1955 photographs, but without the transporter it was decided just to mark the occasion with a group photo, this time accompanied by the three MG drivers from 2005. How things have changed!

XPower Tour

On Friday morning the RML garage played host to a series of tours by other MG enthusiasts. Members of the very active MG XPower Forum had been invited to inspect the EX264, and about twenty had made the journey over from England. They were joined by several members of the MGA Owners Club, converted to the cause after the chateau photocall, and representatives of a number of other MG clubs. Having seen the current racecar at close quarters, and had many of its finer details explained, they met up again in the RML Hospitality around mid-day to enjoy a one-to-one with Mike, Tommy and Warren.

A lively question-and-answer session followed before they were shown an example of the kind of exceptional video footage that the AD Group's TransVU technology can obtain. More typically installed on buses, ferries and in aircraft, the application of this CCTV equipment on board the EX264 has proved both a challenge and a useful development exercise for the company. Subjected to some of the most vigorous conditions it is ever likely to experience, the TransVU equipment has proven its reliability and robust construction by supplying the kind of on-board experience normally reserved for the driver. The guests clustered round the screen to watch qualifying laps of the Le Mans circuit from both Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton. It gave them a clear insight, possibly for the first time, of the kind of speed differentials that exist between the fastest and slowest cars, and the extraordinary physical demands placed upon the drivers.

In the Pitlane

After lunch Tommy and Warren made their way back down to the garage, and spent the best part of an hour autographing HeroCards for the crowds thronging the pitlane. It is evident that the #25 car enjoys a huge following, not only from those who habitually follow the MG brand (or maybe just British racegoers generally!) but also from the many other nationalities in attendance. We understand that the crowds this year are already being toted as the biggest for a decade, although proof of that may be some while in coming.

Later in the day all three drivers attended the traditional Drivers Parade around Le Mans city centre. Perched on the back of a vintage Bentley, they took well over an hour to complete the circuitous tour of the town, handing out more HeroCards and enjoying the occasion. Afterwards, they headed straight back to the chateau for an early night. "I never feel rested unless I've had at least ten hours!" said Tommy Erdos. He has been confirmed as RML's starting driver for tomorrow's race.

Competition Winner

Friday also saw the confirmation of Malcolm Scopes as winner of our competition to win the Scalextric model of the RML MG Lola EX257. The correct time for the EX264's best qualifying time this year was 3:46.205, and Malcolm's guess of 3:45.265 was the closest. Many people obviously expected a much quicker time from the car, with most predictions falling in the 3:40 to 3:44 bracket, but were obviously disappointed (as was the team) by Wednesday's rain. This prevented any chance of matching the kind of pace they'd achieved in the official test two week's ago. There is another competition now running to predict the car's finishing position, with a prize of a team T-shirt and collector's HeroCard (illustrated below) signed by all three drivers going to the winner.

Marcus Potts