8 September 2018
Duncan Williams and Bradley Smith survived pressure from Nielsen Racing / Ecurie Ecosse’s Tony Wells and Colin Noble to seal victory for Mectech Racing in the LMP3 Cup Championship at Donington Park. Smith took over the pole-sitting car midway through the one-hour race and fended off the attentions of Noble’s Ligier after Williams had fought hard to maintain the early advantage.
The pole man came under threat during a wet first stint from the fast-starting Speedworks Motorsport Ligier of Dominic Paul, who eventually made his move stick coming through the Melbourne Loop just as pit stops got underway. Smith took over the Mectech Norma from Williams and inherited the lead, successfully shaking off additional pressure of his own from Noble as the track began to dry.
“The car was at its best in the wet and easy to drive, very consistent,” said Williams. “It became a bit more of a handful after that. I was driving to my pace and was coming in, so I gave Dominic the space.”
“We were going well and on the drying track we had a bit of a problem with the rear tyres overheating,” said Smith. “Colin had great pace, so I just had to defend for anything I had and managed to hold on. This has actually been my first proper driver in the wet around here, so it was all a bit of a learning curve. The team have done a fantastic job and we’re ready to go again tomorrow.”
Noble came within a second of the winning Norma M30 after a late charge, having taken over from Tony Wells who kept the leaders within sight during a tight opening stint. A late red flag interruption brought an end to his chase just as he’d made the move for the lead, but the Nielsen pair held onto their championship advantage with second place.
“I didn’t want it to rain as the car was pretty good in the dry,” said Wells. “I don’t think that I had the advantage I could have had in the dry. At the start, I reacted better than Duncan, but it meant I had to back out and it gave me a bit of a delayed start, then on the third lap I ran wide onto the rubber and kerb and lost second. After that I kept a close gap and got the quickest lap of the three of us.”
“I was just in the process of taking the lead,” said Noble. “I knew I was going to get a chance towards the end of the race, so it was about not being too rash and taking a sensible approach. We’re leading the championship and clearly had the pace to win there, so a pretty good situation.”
Neil Primrose was best of the invitational and PT4 entrants in his Norma M20 FC, finishing on the podium in an impressive third place overall.
“It was a case of steady away”, said Primrose. “I’ve been here before and the car felt great, so it was a case of the more you push, the better it feels. That kind of lulls you in though, and I didn’t want to chuck it off before tomorrow and made sure I kept it in one piece. It’s such a great car in the dry and makes you push, so it’s been a great weekend so far. These cars are amazing when you look at the lap time, so it would be great to add more to the grid.”
Race one results:
- Duncan Williams/Bradley Smith - #21 Mectech Motorsport (Norma M30)
- Colin Noble/Tony Wells - #1 Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
- Neil Primrose - #72 Fellside Land Developments Ltd (Norma M20 FC)