Le Mans Series newcomers Team RLR suffered late disappointment in the 1000km of Silverstone, a suspected driveshaft failure minutes from the end of the five hour long race to blame.
The team had joined the series for the final two events of the year, and having scored top ten in class in Hungary the team where hopeful of a repeat in their home event as well as a chance to gain more experience with their MG Lola EX265 before embarking on a full LMS campaign in 2011.
In qualifying it looked like the squad had the ability, Rob Garofall earning the car ninth in class and 20th overall for the rolling start. However, an early off pushed the team down the order to 36th overall after a pitstop to “tidy up” the car.
Happily, the off left no significant damage and first Barry Gates, then Simon Phillips lapped consistently, re-passing the teams that had gone ahead after the earlier incident, but the team's best stint of the race fell to qualifying start Garofall when he took over the car three and a half hours in the race.
Garofall, a driving instructor at Silverstone, had an almost immediate impact, bounding back up the order to 24th overall (and ninth in class) after a little more than 30 minutes on track.
He continually improved, putting in the team's fastest lap of the race just as the rivals in the LMP2 were beginning to slow, the strain of the race taking its toll on their machinery, peaking at 20th overall after 141 laps.
That, however, is where events took a negative turn as Garofall relates; “not sure what happened but everything had been going well until I came out of a corner and there was a big bang and I lost all drive.”
“The car had been absolutely mega until then. It would've been nice to get to the finish but there's not much you can do when these things happen, it's just bad luck. I felt I drove well and the car handled superbly throughout. We know it's lacking a little bit of outright pace but everything else is in place to make it a competitive package. We can solve the power issue and it's been great to get out there and test ourselves against some very strong competition over the last two rounds. I've loved every minute.”
The late demise, under series rules dropped the team into the ranks of the non-classified runners as they were not able to take the checkered flag, which naturally left the team disappointed, but confident for 2011 having shown what they and the car are capable of.
“When it came to the race I think all three drivers showed they had good pace, but we ended up in the pits too often and that cost us,” Gates explained, frustration evident. “I felt I showed some speed out there when I got a clear run, but had a few issues with certain corners. However, it has all been good experience for next season. All of our pit stops went very smoothly and the team have worked so well together, both here at Silverstone and in the previous round in Hungary. We think from where we are now once we get a competitive engine in the car we can show what we are truly capable of in 2011.”
“What can I say? I'm so disappointed to have got that close to the end and not got to the finish,” bemoaned team manager Nick Reynolds. “There were a bit too many dramas early in the race and that's something we'll need to cut out to be successful going forward, but the drivers all did themselves proud by clawing their way back from the position we were in.”
“Simon Phillips did an outstanding job considering he was a race behind the rest of us having missed Hungary, he progressed really well throughout the weekend. We're all frustrated but we've also taken a lot from it. The boys in the garage have not missed a beat and worked ever so hard. We'll look at our engine choice for next year during the close season and continue to push as hard as we can to develop the team in every area.”