1 July 2018
Tony Wells and Colin Noble converted pole position into victory in a gruelling opening LMP3 Cup Championship race from Snetterton. Wells withstood early pressure in his stint from Speedworks Motorsport’s Dominic Paul before handing over to Noble who pulled clear for a fourth win of the season.
“Fair play to Dominic, because he had great pace”, said Wells. “The start went well, then I could see everybody fighting in my mirrors which was helpful, but he still caught me up. I thought ‘that wasn’t what I planned!’ I got my head down and tried, but the car was slightly oversteery on a full tank. I had a lairy moment through Coram, but apart from that it was great.”
“It was about consistent lap times for both of us, doing the times that we needed to do,” said Noble. “I didn’t really have to risk it so drove to a pace comfortable enough to pull away. Nielsen have done a really good job with the car in qualifying, and Tony did a fantastic job in the first stint to hand it over in the lead.”
The race was far from straightforward for the reigning champions however, as LMP3 Cup rookie Paul gave chase in the opening stint. Handing over to Jack Butel after the stop, the Speedworks car exited the pits with its nose ahead but the charging Noble had enough momentum to sweep around the outside at Riches to reclaim an advantage he wouldn’t surrender.
“I was so close to Tony all the way through and he drove really well,” said Paul. “I nearly got by on a couple of occasions and he made a mistake at Coram; I thought he was actually going to spin so I backed out of it a bit! It was super close, and it is a hard circuit to get by. I was quicker in certain places than him, but it was great as we were right with them all race.”
Butel was delighted with the result, adding: “It’s awesome. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve just worked and worked and worked to get to where we got, and today myself and Dom showed that we’ve got the pace.”
A spin for Bonamy Grimes handed third place to the Norma M30 of Duncan Williams in the early laps of the race, Bradley Smith taking over the Mectech car to begin his chase of the lead duo. Despite setting a string of rapid laps, third place would be Smith’s reward after a determined pursuit.
“It’s a tougher track for the Norma with lower downforce, but the car was still pretty good, and I was just trying to put a decent time in,” said Smith. “Once I knew I couldn’t quite close the gap enough, I was looking after the car for tomorrow. Big thanks to the team, and we’ll keep working hard.”
“It was pretty quiet from my perspective,” added Williams. “The Norma is not quite the best car here, but it changes at other circuits so we’re coming back fighting.”
Richard Fearns finished fifth overall and first on in his maiden outing in the PT4 category driving a Radical RXC. “I was set on a full season with this car but that didn’t end up happening, then a couple of weeks ago I was dropped a line asking if I wanted to race here. It’s been good, but frustrating as the car is brilliant at the back, but in the twisty stuff it’s too heavy. I’m looking to change it for a new car we’re developing, so hopefully by the time we get to Donington it will be ready.”
Race one results:
1. Colin Noble/Tony Wells - #1 Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
2. Dominic Paul/Jack Butel - #96 Speedworks Motorsport (Ligier JS P3)
3. Duncan Williams/Bradley Smith - #21 Mectech Motorsport (Norma M30)