1 July 2018
After a chaotic second race at Spa Francorchamps, Mectech Motorsport stood on the top step of the podium. With the disappointment of losing laps with a problem on Saturday it was the perfect way to bounce back for the outfit, and to give itself and Norma a second LMP3 Cup victory this season.
Drivers Duncan Williams and Bradley Smith kept calm heads to secure the victory as the #1 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Racing car pitted from the lead with a suspected puncture, while the #96 Speedworks machine crashed out of the lead before half-distance in a race shared with competitors from the GT Cup.
“We decided to be very cautious at the start after yesterday and then pick off the cars and keep the distance so Bradley could catch them,” said Williams. “The car isn’t set up as we had no dry running on Friday and it sounded like a tank bottoming out through Eau Rouge. Sometimes things go in your favour and sometimes it doesn’t and we’re very grateful today it went our way.”
“I tried to pick off traffic safely,” said Smith. “We had a broken exhaust early in the stint and we were about 30kmh down on the straights, so thankfully we had the gap to nurse it home in one piece. The team has done a fantastic job so thanks have to go to Mectech, Excool, and Norma.”
Championship leaders Tony Wells and Colin Noble surged back after the early tyre problem but were caught behind the safety car when it was called on track, losing ground to the leading Norma and leaving Noble with too big a gap to close in the final stages.
“I had a bit of a tap at the start,” said Wells. “I got a nice run and as soon as I got through Les Combes the car felt a bit loose, so I did that lap and another and had a half-spin at La Source and I wasn’t sure if the tyre would stay up or not, so I came in and changed it. The car was great, it was immediately good after the tyre change and we probably would have been fine if it wasn’t for the safety car – we got picked up by it and the leader didn’t.”
“Both Tony and I were very quick,” said Noble. “But we had a big gap to close down that we were never going to get – unfortunately the safety car kind of ruined our chances. We still extended our lead in the championship so overall, it’s a good weekend.”
Finishing third was the Red River Sport / Nielsen Racing pair of Bonamy Grimes and Johnny Mowlem. After battling handling issues on Saturday, changes to the car failed to improve things, leaving both with a difficult task to find extra speed on track.
“We were struggling with understeer yesterday, so we made a lot of changes overnight which we didn’t have a chance to test this morning and we had a very different car today,” said Grimes. “There was a lot of turn-in oversteer which caught me out on lap one going into Pouhon so I spun and flat-spotted my tyres. After that we were chasing our tail throughout the day.”
“Bon is right – the car was extremely tricky to drive, and I was slower through Eau Rogue than I was yesterday,” said Mowlem. “In the middle sector the car was evil, and we think there might be a power-steering rack issue and maybe a damper issue, so I think Bon did well to keep it on the track after the initial spin.
“Overall, it’s a positive weekend with second place yesterday and third place today and Bon has more experience driving this car in the dry around Spa. These are the weekends you learn the most from and now Red River Sport is looking forward to Le Mans where Bon will be driving.”
1 – Duncan Williams / Bradley Smith, Mectech Motorsport (Norma M30)
2 – Tony Wells / Colin Noble, Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
3 – Bonamy Grimes / Johnny Mowlem, Red River Sport / Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)