3 June 2018
Tony Wells and Colin Noble kept their nose clean and produced a dominating drive to take victory in the LMP3 Cup Championship at Spa Francorchamps. After qualifying on pole position in the 50-minute race which was shared with the GT Cup, Wells avoided drama at the first corner and pulled away from the pack, before Noble took over and brought the car home with fastest lap.
“The car was good at the start and I managed to avoid the chaos behind,” said Wells. “I was cautious before I brought the tyres in, but I got my head down and opened up a gap. I lost a bit of time through traffic but we had plenty of time so there wasn’t any reason to take a risk.”
“Nielsen put together a good car for both of us, so it was nice to drive,” said Noble. “Tony and I both compete in the ELMS where dealing with traffic and not losing time is the name of the game, so it definitely helped us here today, navigating our way through the GT traffic.”
Slotting into second-place at the start, when Dominic Paul and Duncan Williams made contact, Bonamy Grimes fended off the recovering Paul for several laps before he made an audacious pass down into Eau Rouge. Managing handling difficulties in the Red River Sport / Nielsen Racing Ligier, Grimes handed over to Johnny Mowlem who reeled in Jack Butel and regained second place before the end.
“I got a really good start and had to go around the outside,” said Grimes. “Dominic had a good run on me the second time into Eau Rouge, so I let him through and followed him, he was going really well and he’s a great driver. The set up on the car isn’t quite right but we’ll get there, we haven’t had the dry running to get the car set up and it’s our first time at Spa, so tomorrow we’ll take the fight to the others.”
“Bon did a great job considering it is his first time racing around here,” said Mowlem. “Qualifying and the race were the first dry laps he’s done. Because that was our first dry running we haven’t got the set up in the right place and it is holding Bon and I back, so I thought we did really well. If a bad day is second place, then we’ll take that and hopefully we can have a run at that elusive victory tomorrow.”
Rounding out the podium were Paul and Butel who also had to drive around handling problems caused by the first lap contact. “I got tagged at the start and was pushed wide. When Duncan hit me, the tyre came off the rim slightly, so the car wasn’t handling perfectly. Bon was driving well, and I managed to line him up through Eau Rouge. We went through side-by-side and he gave me just enough room – how exciting to do that at Spa! I tried to close the gap to Tony, but it was just too much.
“Driving at Spa was always a dream of mine,” said Butel. “We did the best we could. We noticed the vibration but didn’t realise how bad it was. There was three or four inches where the tyre wasn’t on the rim. It’s one of those ones, so I just had to bring it home. We know we have the pace and it was disappointing we couldn’t show it today.”
1 – Tony Wells / Colin Noble, Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
2 – Bonamy Grimes / Johnny Mowlem, Red River Sport / Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
3 – Dominic Paul / Jack Butel, Speedworks Motorsport (Ligier JS P3)