Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble win at Snetterton in the first race of the weekend in the Henderson Insurance LMP3 Cup.
From the start, pole-sitter Chris England in the #2 United Autosports car asserted his dominance, making an aggressive get away on the rolling start, immediately pulling ahead of Devon Modell who lost second place coming to the green flag. “I came out of the final corner to take the start, and hit the rev limiter so lost out to Christian, and Alasdair in third passed me” said Modell, with championship leader Alasdair McCaig taking second place going into Turn 1.
Starting in third, Tony Wells in the sister United Autosport car, the #3, trundled round slowly for the first lap, before pulling into the pit lane. Upon his arrival, the team took off the engine cover, before diagnosing the issue as a belt having come off the power steering pump, and retired. Wells said “I was going around on the parade lap and the low oil pressure warning light came on, but that sometimes happens when the car is going slowly. I accelerated at the green flag, and everyone else accelerated and I didn’t! I then turned into the first corner and nothing happened, so I bought it back go the pits. Unfortunately, we needed to win this race to keep the championship fight alive.”
Tony Wells brings the United Autosport car into the pits, but would retire
By the end of the fifth lap, Devon Modell had retaken second position, getting a good run out of the final corner, and moving inside McCaig into Turn 1. The #96 Speedworks car was then five seconds behind leader England, lapping in the low 1minute 46’s, with a fastest time for him on the 13th lap, with a 1.46.343.
Alasdair McCaig was the first car to pit, from third, handing over to Colin Noble, “I had a good start, the understeer we had in practice had gone, I was feeling more comfortable as the laps went on, but I just need more practice” said the Scot.
McCaig pits to hand over to Noble
He was followed in by Mike Newbould, who was some thirty seconds behind off Chris England, handing over to Thomas Randle, with the Aussie pumping in the fastest lap time on nine times laps, him being the only driver to get into the 1.44’s!
Chris England also bought the United Autosport car in from the lead, but lost two seconds on his pitstop time due to the team making some adjustments. Further down the pit lane, Devon Modell bought in the Speedworks #96 from second, handing over to Jack Butel. Both these drivers are silver ranked according to the FIA Driver Ranking, meaning they had to stop for an additional twelve seconds (72 seconds stationary, compared to 60 seconds for the other entrants) allowing Colin Noble in the #79 Nielsen Racing car to overtake him in the pit lane for second.
England brings the car into for its driver change
But drama struck on Lap 23, when Andrew Evans made a mistake on the exit of Turn 1, “I hit the inside kerb, which pushed me wide, and I spun on the outside kerb” said the American youngster, allowing Noble to take the lead, who then stretched that to nearly 20 seconds over second placed Jack Butel, lapping nearly two seconds a lap quicker than the Speedworks car.
Thomas Randle continued to push hard down in fourth place, setting lap record after lap record, trying to catch Andrew Evans for the final podium spot. Evans was lapping consistently in the low 1 minute 48’s, compared to Randle who finished the race with a fastest lap of 1.44.296, but came up short, finishing 20 seconds behind Andrew Evans. Randle told us after the race “it was hard at the beginning for Mike, but when I got in, I gave it everything, really ragged it. The car was just fantastic, I think I nearly spun about ten times! I had a big moment with six laps to go at Hamilton, I ran a bit wide onto the outside kerb and the car stepped sideways.”
Evans would finish third to complete the bottom step of the podium. In second was the #96 Speedworks car, their best finish of the year, some thirty seconds down on McCaig/Noble. The Scottish trio have extended their championship lead over Tony Wells and Matt Bell after their DNF. Colin Noble afterwards said “it was a case of bringing it home, and not pushing for the fastest lap”. With three rounds remaining, it seems that the Nielsen Racing crew almost certainly have the championship in their reach, and with it the opportunity to race in the 2018 Road to Le Mans race.
1st #79 Noble/McCaig (33 Laps)
2nd #96 Modell/Butel
3rd #2 England/Evans
4th #72 Newbould/Randle
RET #3 Wells/Bell
Round ten is tomorrow, Sunday 13th August, starting at 15:40.