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5th May 2002

Top class performance from MG at Le Mans.

MG Sport and Racing easily set the LMP 675 class pace at today's Le Mans test day, the two MG Lola EX257s ending the day a superb fifth and eighth overall - and over 14 seconds quicker than any class rival. Mark Blundell, sharing the No.27 car with Julian Bailey for the test, set a searing lap of 3min33.414secs to put MG right amongst the front runners, while the No.26 MG, with Jonny Kane and Kevin McGarrity on board, set a best lap of 3min35.348secs.

With Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes on BTCC duty at Thruxton, Kevin moved across to No.26 for the test, leaving Mark and Julian to share his usual car. In contrast to last year's Le Mans 24-Hour race, which was memorable for its heavy downpours, the 2002 test day took place in bright and fine conditions - and the MG Sport and Racing team made the most of it to show their pace before June's big race.

“So far so good!” said Mark after the two four-hour sessions. “It was a little frustrating that we didn't do the amount of running we wanted this morning. We had a few small problems, which we've corrected, so we're starting to run a lot faster, and we're optimistic that we're going to be a lot closer.

“Everything has gone well and the team worked efficiently, and put the car into a configuration that we're a lot happier with. It's taken us a while to understand it with a limited amount of testing, and now we're in a situation where we can really begin to make big steps forward.”

“We've worked on the car and set-up over the weekend,” explained Julian. “The main thing is the engine is running nicely and we've got a lot more to find in the car. At the moment we've closed the gap on the front-runners.

“We're tried some different things and everything seemed to work and puts us in the right direction. We are in much better shape than last year, the car is really quick and nice to drive - it's been a fantastic day.”

In the No.26 car, Jonny and Kevin were equally happy with their day's work.

“We had a few little problems in the morning, but the afternoon has gone a lot better,” said Jonny. “Kevin and I have been exploring tyre wear, and I'm still learning the circuit as I didn't do much running last year.

“Today has been really good. I've done two complete stints and a few other laps as well. I was P6 on old tyres and the lap times really speak for themselves. We're all very pleased with the way the day has gone.”

“It's gone really good, and we've tried all sorts of things on set-up,” said Kevin. “This time last year we hadn't even competed, and now I've done two complete stints.

“As far as the engine goes, it's flying and we haven't even got it on full power. Our lap times were effected because there was so much traffic. Everything looks good to come back for qualifying in June.” “Overall, this has been a good day for MG,” said MG Sport and Racing director Rob Oldaker. “We had a few small niggles this morning which cost us some track time, but we have still been able to gather valuable data about the set-up of the car.

“However, we must remember that to do a few laps is one thing, but this is a 24-Hour race and the first priority has to be to finish - we will see what happens from there.”

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