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The start of the 2008 saw RML introducing a further evolution of the original MG Lola EX257sports prototype contender, the MG Lola EX265.

This was a direct development of the team's Le Mans-winning LMP2 EX264, and the extent of further work carried out on the chassis during the course of the Winter of 2007-8, particularly with regard to the engine, warranted full re-homologation of the MG. The result was the announcement in January 2008 of the arrival of the MG Lola EX265 (see news item here). However, by the time the season reached its conclusion, the designation had changed again, but while the underlying car remained largely the same, the outwarrd appearance had become markedly different.

After a season on tackling the latest cars from Porsche, Zytek and Lola with an LMP2 car that was, in some respects, several years old, RML made the move forwards. In mid-September 2008, after weeks of total secrecy, the new RML MG Lola EX265C broke cover, and it was a coupé.

Outwardly, there had been few distinguishing features to mark the EX265 as significantly different from its predecessor, the 264, but the same could not be said of the EX265C. With its smooth curves and profiled cockpit, it looked quick when it wasn't even moving.

Under the skin, however, the heart of the 265 survived, and much of the work carried out to hone what had been a very successful sportscar survived. Photographs of the last-ever MG racecar are now featured widely here on the site, and visitors are urged to visit two news pages where coverage of the announcement is given, followed by a report on the shakedown test at Snetterton.

The following details apply to the EX265 open-topped LMP2 contender, but mechanical and technical details were largely unchanged for the coupé.

The major advance over the earlier EX264 lay within the two-litre turbocharged engine. Based upon AER's well-proven PO7 engine, the EX265 was powered by the re-designated XP-21 unit. This revived the original association between MG, Lola and AER that began with the MG EX257 in 2001, when the works cars at Le Mans were powered by the AER-derived XP-20. In addition, collaboration between RML and chassis developers Lola had achieved further advances in handling, aerodynamics and overall performance of the car, allowing the EX265 to make full use of the improved characteristics of the XP-21 engine.

The EX265 was the last in a long line of technologically advanced and aesthetically pleasing MG racecars to emerge from the Lola factory in Huntingdon. Over 8000 hours of CAD development work went into the design of the original EX264, while some 260 hours were spent in the windtunnel to perfect the car's aerodynamics.

In its original configuration, as raced in 2005, the EX264 was initially developed in association with MG, RML and engine specialists Judd. Based on the Lola B05/40, itself a comprehensive redevelopment of the successful MG EX257 sports prototype, the EX264 was immediately eligible for the ACO LMP2 class at Le Mans as well as the Le Mans Endurance Series (now Le Mans Series) and the American Le Mans Series. In its final incarnation, the MG EX265 complied with all the latest regulations and technical specifications.

Although visually similar to other Lola chassis, RML's family of racecars is correctly designated as MG - be that last season's EX264, or the EX265 through to the end of 2008. (Not, as has been contrived by some, an "MGola", which seems a cumbersome name for such a svelte and nimble car!). Under the skin it featured many significant differences that stood it apart from its Lola, Mazda or Acura - badged counterparts. Many of these stem from the way RML continued development of the previous MG EX257 after acquiring the ex-factory racecars and campaigning those in 2003 and 2004. Much of that on-going development was too valuable to be lost when the B05/40 chassis was released, and with the blessings of both Lola and MG (at that time still in operation), many of those innovations were carried over to the new car. Several months before the demise of MG Rover as a British company, the new RML racecar was fully homologated as the MG EX264. Subsequently, with the revival of the MG brand and closer ties between RML AD Group and the MG parent company, Shanghai Automotive in China, the RML sports prototype continued to carry the MG octagon and to promote the brand world-wide. Regrettably, the relationship came to an end in late 2008 after protracted negotiations failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion, and RML AD Group's six-year period of "flying the flag" for MG came to an end.

The chassis is an all-carbon fibre monocoque, with symmetrical twin rollover hoops. This is encased within a stunningly good-looking bodyshell constructed from pre-preg carbon fibre with a honeycomb core for additional rigidity. This met the revised aerodynamic requirements introduced during 2004 and meant that the EX265 could remain at the forefront of prototype racecar technology for several years. Indeed, in 2009, several examples of the similar Lola B07 chassis are stil in active competition. The rear wing and underbody are also of lightweight carbon composite construction.

The front and rear suspension uprights are fabricated from aircraft specification steel and TIG welded. These elements link via double fabricated steel wishbones with pushrods and rockers to three-way adjustable damper units.

In 2005 the car raced with a specially-developed MG V8 powerplant, created exclusively for the EX264 by Judd. Normally aspirated, this unit took the car to a class win at Le Mans in June 2005 and proved both reliable and strong, rarely missing a beat all season. Having enjoyed fantastic support from Judd all year, it was not an easy decision to take when the team found it necessary to change engines for 2006, reverting to the turbocharged AER 2-litre engine that had previously powered the team's EX257s. Not only did RML already have several of these engines "in stock", but over the previous two seasons the AER unit had proven itself exceptionally reliable, fuel efficient and responsive. It made sense, both financially and in terms of race strategy, to make the change. As was subsequently demonstrated by a second consecutive class victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours of June 2006, the change proved to be a wise one.

In 2008 the engine was replaced again, this time by the AER-developed XP-21, mated to a Lola six-speed sequential gearbox with semi-automatic paddle shift system. A back-up manual gear-change system is also installed. When first introduced, this back-up required that a driver with paddle-shift problems made a 40 second pitstop to initiate the changeover. However, later refinements meant that only a very brief moment of free-wheeling was required in order to affect the switch, so the car did not even have to stop. Two starter motors and paired alternators were fitted for reliability, lightweight magnesium castings were employed extensively throughout the car, and braking was by 355 mm diameter carbon discs.

In 2007 Lola introduced the revised B07 chassis, and made available an updated aerodynamic kit for the earlier B05 and B06 chassis. RML carried out extensive testing and back-to-back simulations on these configurations, and in 2007 employed both variants, favouring new "07" body kit at high downforce circuits but remaining faithful to the "06" kit for the lowest downforce tracks. During the 2007-8 "closed season" the team carried out further dynamic testing on both the body and chassis of the EX265 and has now achieved significant improvements in handling and performance.

The EX265 was fitted with a fully-integrated computerised dash/data logger system with steering-wheel mounted display. The military-specification wiring loom is installed directly to the inside of the monocoque for protection, access and reliability. The car also carried examples of AD Group's latest technology in video monitoring and on-board camera equipment, allowing team and drivers alike to review and assess all aspects of the car's on-track performance.

The technical specification listed below relate to the car as prepared for the Le Mans 24 Hours in June 2006, fitted with the MG XP-21 AER turbochared engine. For the specification of the earlier EX264, please click this link: MG Lola EX264. Distinguishing between the two is made easy by the presence of the air intake between the roll hoops on the V8-powered car, and the single periscope inlet to the side of the cockpit on the turbocharged EX265.

MG AER XP-21 2.0 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder
Approximately 500bhp through 1 x 42mm restrictor
Top speed
In excess of 200mph
6-speed semi-automatic sequential via paddle-shift
Carbon, pull type
Aluminium water radiators and oil coolers
One piece carbon fibre monocoque
Power assisted rack-and-pinion
Fabricated steel double wishbones
355mm x 32mm front and rear, Carbon fibre discs, carbon fibre pads
Forged Magnesium Fronts 18"x12.5J, Rears 18"x13J
Michelin. Fronts 300/650-18, Rears 310/710-18
Length, 4534mm; Width, 1990mm; Wheelbase, 2790mm
Weight Minimum 825 kgs
Fuel, 80 litres, Oil (dry sump) 10 litres

These specifications are subject to change and were correct for the EX265 as of April 2008