Andy Wallace To RML For Le Mans
After several weeks of speculation, the question of who becomes the “third” driver in the RML MG Lola EX264 for Le Mans is answered today - with the announcement that Andy Wallace joins Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos at La Sarthe.

Andy Wallace is at Laguna Seca this weekend, sharing the Howard-Boss Crawford Pontiac DP with Butch Leitzinger, but we managed to track him down ahead of practice, and found him very upbeat about his chances with RML and the MG. “I’m chuffed to bits,” he said. “RML has been around for years and they certainly know what they’re doing. Throughout racing, whatever category they’ve competed in, they’ve always done a first class job. That’s tremendously reassuring, especially when you’re heading for Le Mans. You need to be well organised as a team to succeed at Le Mans - everything has to be in order, and when you choose to go, you need to know you’ve got a team behind you with that kind of experience, that level of expertise. The fact they won LMP2 last year says it all.”

He’ll be sharing the car with the established pairing of Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton, but the opportunity to drive with them came about purely by chance. He and Erdos were chatting on the phone when Tommy happened to ask what drive Andy had lined up for Le Mans - and was amazed to be told that there so far wasn’t one. “He thought I already had something sorted for Le Mans, but I didn’t,” admitted Wallace. “I’d been so busy with Grand Am and ALMS that I’d not had chance to devote much thought to Le Mans. I’d looked down the entry list, of course, but I couldn’t see anything in LMP1 that I could go to. Then this opportunity opened up, and I thought, yes, that’s a really class entry. It all happened very quickly after that.”

In fact, the deal was closed within a couple of hours. Tommy called Adam Wiseberg, the Motorsport Director at AD Group, principal sponsor of RML’s sportscar programme. “I think he was sunning himself on the beach somewhere at the time,” laughed Wallace. “He called me, and we discussed the idea, talked through the details, and came to an agreement. It was all very straightforward.” The feelings on the other end of that telephone call were equally positive. “We really are thrilled to have been able to secure Andy for the drive,” said Adam Wiseberg. “His record speaks volumes, and I am genuinely excited about how this enhances our prospects for the race. We’ve now got a driver line-up that is definitely equal to the one that netted us the win at Le Mans last year, and I’m also sure that Andy would not have agreed to our invitation if he hadn’t felt we offered him a good chance of another podium.”

It seems amazing that Erdos and Wallace have never raced together before. “I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid it, after all these years,” said the new RML man. “I’ve raced against him many times, of course, but never shared a car. I’ve always rated him very highly. He’s such a professional, and he always does a fantastic job. He’s not the sort of guy who makes mistakes. Yes, it will be really nice to drive with Tommy.”

Back in 1995 they did come very close to sharing a Marcos LM600, when Andy was originally named as one of six drivers to spearhead the Marcos revival at Le Mans, alongside Jan Lammers, Chris Hodgetts, David Leslie and Chris Marsh. “That was as close as it got,” admitted Wallace. “Unfortunately, the deal went pear shaped, and the opportunity has never arisen again since.” History will recall, of course, that Andy ended up sharing the Harrods McLaren F1 GTR with Derek and Justin Bell that year, and finishing third, which somehow places any regrets he may feel at missing the Marcos drive into clearer perspective!

The Brazilian is also looking forward to driving with Andy Wallace. “It’s going to be a fabulous treat to share the MG with Andy, especially at Le Mans,” he said. “His record is simply outstanding, and he’s such a great guy to have around. I’m sure he will gel well with the team immediately, and he brings such a huge amount of knowledge to the squad. I’ve got to say, all credit to Adam [Wiseberg] for putting this deal together. With Andy in the car, we can head to Le Mans knowing we have a great chance of winning the LMP2 again and, who knows, maybe even dream of a top six finish overall. I can't wait!”

Mike Newton is “absolutely delighted” by the prospects of sharing the MG with a driver of Wallace’s calibre. “After our success last year we’d set ourselves a goal of having another driver with experience of the chassis. Having raced with us in 2005, Warren [Hughes] would have been the obvious choice, but his commitments for the season meant that he was unavailable for Le Mans. Similarly, Jonny [Kane] was also unavailable, despite having tested with us earlier in the year. We then had the task of finding another first class driver with 257 or 264 experience, and to discover that Andy was without a drive was a remarkable stroke of good fortune. When it turned out that he was also keen to join us, that made it a terrific result all round. I’ve always admired him as a driver, and his overall experience will be a great asset to the campaign. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Marcus Potts

This was the scene at Le Manslast June... 16.00... Sunday afternoon....

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