Le Mans » 16 May 2005
Hughes debuts as RML continues Le Mans preparation
MG-Lola veteran Warren Hughes made his first appearance behind the wheel of RML's EX264 as the team continued to prepare for the forthcoming Le Mans 24 Hours with a two-day at Snetterton.
This was the former 'works' team driver's first opportunity to get behind the wheel of the new RML MG, but he settled in almost immediately.
“It was great to get back in a prototype after three years, and the MG is fabulous to drive," the Briton revealed, "We have a bit more work to do on my fit in the car when we return to the workshops but, apart from that, I'm really happy. The team has made me very welcome and it's good to be driving with Tommy Erdos again. ”
“Warren took to the car really well, starting off steadily but he was soon up to speed and setting some good lap times,” team manager Phil Barker reported, “All three drivers have driven very well this week and maintained a consistent performance throughout. We have a really well balanced squad for Le Mans this year and I am looking forward to the official test in three weeks time.”
All three of the team's drivers for La Sarthe - Hughes, Erdos and Mike Newton - ran at the test and were encouraged by the performance and reliability shown over the two days, in which the team managed to sort a few niggling problems and introduce new systems for the 24 Hours. The engineers were also able to gather useful data from the tyre pressure monitoring system.
“We are really pleased with the progress we have made this week,” Barker commented, “The test has gone very well and we have eliminated the system problems that have blighted us so far this season. We also made some changes to resolve an electrical problem and have been able to thoroughly check a number of safety features on the car.”
Those safety features included a 'double paddle engine kill' which enables the drivers to cut the engine by pulling both gearshift paddles together. The team also finalised a system which enables it to switch to a manual gearshift in the event of a loss of semi-automatic transmission.
Newton, Erdos and Hughes each drove one-hour stints in rotation over the two days, with the improved reliability allowing them to gain as much seat time as possible in the course of 1200km.
“I am very pleased with how our programme is progressing," Newton admitted, "We have resolved a few minor problems and our reliability is good. We have set some times here that are only a fraction slower than the EX257 of last year, which is good for an LMP2 contender. We are much closer to LMP1 pace than we had previously been, so the test has given us a huge level of confidence for Le Mans.”
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