News : MG returns to Endurance Racing

Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics

L to R: Guy Jones, Sales and Marketing Director, MG Motor UK, Jason Longworth, Chief Engineer, Team RLR, Rob Garofall, Driver, John Eaton, Truckie/Tyre Fitter, Team RLR and Nick Reynolds, Team Principal, Team RLR

MG Motor UK has today confirmed that the company will return to the forefront of international motor racing in partnership with Le Mans Series LMP2 class contenders Team RLR. The agreement, which follows hot on the heels of the brand new MG6 Magnette’s recent Dealer Launch, will enable MG Motor UK to capitalise on the marque’s famous sporting heritage by becoming an official sponsor of Lancashire-based Team RLR as the team competes in the prestigious Le Mans Series with the MG Lola EX265 sports prototype.

The deal will provide MG with international branding opportunities across the team’s car and other assets – including team kit, publicity material, website and social media channels. A two-way technical partnership will also be established under the terms of the agreement and MG’s customers and associates will be provided with the opportunity to get up close to the world’s highest level of Endurance Racing.

MG’s involvement in the 2011 Le Mans Series follows an outstanding record of success in Endurance Racing as a factory team between 2003 and 2008 – a success story which includes two class wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2005 and 2006. Team RLR drivers Barry Gates, Rob Garofall and Simon Phillips have contested all three rounds of the Le Mans Series in 2011 so far – including Le Castellet (France), Spa Francorchamps (Belgium), and Imola (Italy). MG will have an official presence with Team RLR at the remaining races, which will take place at Silverstone (Great Britain) and Estoril (Portugal).

Nick Reynolds, Team RLR’s Team Principal, said: ‘We have one of the best prepared teams in the Le Mans Series and the support from MG will ensure that we can be even more competitive both on and off the track throughout the 2011 Le Mans Series season and beyond. The deal is a great fit for both parties and we are excited to be working closely with such a famous and much-loved car manufacturer. We look forward to repaying MG for its confidence in us by providing many exciting moments for the company and its huge number of followers in the races ahead.’

MG Motor UK’s Sales and Marketing Director, Guy Jones, said: ‘MG is delighted to be supporting Team RLR and the MG Lola EX265, which is such a famous car. The MG brand is synonymous with motor sport and, with the new MG6 GT and Magnette models now in the market place, we need to raise the profile of the brand. Supporting Team RLR with the MG Lola in the exciting, high-profile, Le Mans endurance series is a perfect fit for the brand and the team.’

Guy Jones told AROnline that Team RLR and the SMTC UK Engineers based at MG Birmingham had already identified several aspects of the MG Lola EX265 which would benefit from the latter’s input and specifically mentioned the area of powertrain development. However, when asked whether the partnership between MG Motor UK and Team RLR was likely to extend beyond the introduction of the Le Mans Series’ new Technical Regulations in 2014, Mr. Jones emphasised that the two companies were taking a step by step approach at the moment although both were aware of the potential to develop a long-term relationship.

Interestingly, AROnline understands that Team RLR Team Principal Nick Reynolds and his colleagues only had their first sight of SMTC UK’s impressive Engineering Office after the conclusion of today’s Media Event…

Any AROnline readers wishing to find out more about Team RLR and this year’s Le Mans Series campaign can visit the team’s website at this link.

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Posted in: AROnline News
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

15 Comments on "News : MG returns to Endurance Racing"

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  1. James Riley James says:

    There’s something strangely odd about a car manufacturer sponsoring a racing team by merely sticking its badge on a car when that car manufacturer has absolutely nothing to do with the car or racing technology – it might just as well be a Dyson sticker.

    Actually, MG, sponsor racing by racing your own cars, otherwise leave it to Benson & Hedges… I can see nothing to feel proud about just watching a completely unrelated racing car driving around with ridiculous “paid for” product placement MG stickers on it.

  2. Kenty says:

    You could, though, say the same about Group Lotus PLC plastering their name over the Renault F1 team – it’s called sponsorship and is a good way of getting brand recognition, especially amongst petrolheads.

  3. Ross A says:

    You seem to forget that ‘The Firm’ was doing exactly the same thing too. Actually, this literally is the same thing as it’s the same bunch who did the last deal – it serves a marketing and R&D purpose. That is all…

  4. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    James, I have to disagree with you there!

    This is EXACTLY the sort of advertising MG Motor UK needs to prove to many doubting potential buyers that this new operation is NOT just a flash in the pan.

    Once the marketing machine kicks in the public become aware of a brand presence, sales will come.

    Awareness = curiosity
    Curiosity = Visit a dealer
    Visit a dealer = Test drive

    That, in turn, leads to the well-known phrase:

    “Bums on seats sell cars.”

  5. DaveyP says:

    10/10 to MG!

  6. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    I agree it’s good to get the MG name in the news and this is a promising start.

    However, I reckon that MG Motor UK will garner more benefit in the future if they get the MG6 and MG3/5 into motor sport. Owners feel a bit more of a connection when they see ‘their’ car taking part in Touring Car racing or rallying.

  7. Yme402 says:

    Fantastic… This time MG is being associated with motor sport and has potentially huge financial backing – contrast that with MG Rover Group’s attempts which the company could clearly not afford.

    MG is now in a great place and, nearly each week, there is new, solid news which confirms that the company and brand are going places.

  8. Mike C says:

    I have just been looking at Team RLR’s website as I was wondering what engine the MG Lola EX265 used and read this:

    “For 2011 the car is powered by a new Judd ‘HK’ engine based on a production BMW 4.0 litre V8, noted for its low weight and high specific power output in road going form.”

    MG and BMW again…

  9. Dib says:

    Would it not be better to race the new MG6 in the BTCC? People would (with luck) then see the car doing well and that would bring in more customers than a badge stuck on some obscure racing car which no one can buy.

  10. JonBoy says:

    Sorry, but I don’t agree – the money could well be better used to market the Magnette or invested in production-based MG racing such as either a One Make Championship or the British Touring Car Championship.

    I do not mean to give any offence but who takes any interest in the also rans contesting Le Mans Series racing? All one ever sees when the races are televised are Aston Martins, Audis, Peugeots and Porsches – that is about it…

    I just hope that MG Motor UK are not trying to carry on where MG Rover left off.

  11. Marty says:

    I think it’s a good idea for MG to go out there and show the world that MG is back, but the idea of an MG3 WRC or S2000 rally car is an even more appealing thought.

  12. Andrew Elphick says:

    I think that this is a pleasant, but wasteful use of resources. MG Motor UK should spend the money having a stand at the Geneva Motor Show – it is not even a proper crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours (the last was, I believe, in 2006).

    Why not spend the money on a proper single marque MG6 Championship like the Tomcat or GTI series? Such a championship would work especially if it was based on an arrive and drive home format which encompassed circuits, hillclimbs and road rallies. A good example of that was the RS2000 Challenge in the early 1990s.

  13. Richard Moss says:

    Will the MG Lola EX265 be competitive, though? I reckon that, if it’s not (either due to lack or performance or lack of reliability), then it could do more harm than good.

  14. Dennis says:

    The MG Lola EX265 will be competitive in its class because all the other cars in the class are also Lolas. Lola pretty much design all the Le Mans Series cars – it is basically a One-Make Racing series like, say, GP2.

  15. Alex Scott says:

    Good on MG Motor UK – this certainly shows some commitment and some confidence. 🙂 Oh, and yes, I agree it will get bums on seats and might sell some cars.

    Incidentally, I drove post the local Ford Dealer today and the latest edition of the Ford Territory (in Australia and New Zealand) looks like its got a slight hint of the MG6’s front end design – have a look at Ford of New Zealand’s website.

    Alex.

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