Round 2 of the 2017 LMP3 Cup saw the #79 Neilsen Racing/Ecurie Ecosse pairing of Alasdiar McCaig and Colin Noble complete the double of race wins in a hectic and shortened second encounter.
Qualifying for Round 2, another 10 minute session this morning, saw the #28 G-Cat Racing car of Andy Schulz and Paul Bailey take their second pole position of the weekend, ahead of the first of the United Autosports cars, with the #2 of Christian England and Andrew Evans taking 2nd ahead of the sister #3 of Matt Bell and Tony Wells. Once the start had been taken, all 3 had taken to vying it out up towards Redgate for the first time. Bailey was forced to drivers’ right, the two UA cars driving around the outside and taking a 1-2 for the 2 & 3. Whilst Paul was able to keep pace with the leaders in the first race; a problem on his car seemed to limit his pace coming out of the chicane for the first time, limping around for a short while further before spinning at Coppice, with the Safety Car being called for to retrieve him.
A few laps later, everything was cleared and ready for the green flags to wave once more. Christian England got back to work to build the lead he required coming up to the pit stops, but only a mere 5 laps later we were back under safety car conditions. The #23 Nielsen Racing car of Jason Rushover (in the car) and Jamie Spence spun at Coppice and got stuck; identically to the Paul Bailey spin. Whilst he got back on circuit and continued (albeit 2 laps down), Jason was pushed back, came in, went out and came back in again. “Too much time was lost to be worth continuing” was the reason as to why that car retired; bringing us down to 9 cars running.
Once we went green again, the #2 United Autosport car could really show their pace. Over the course of the next 15 laps, Christian set numerous fastest laps to build a significant lead; at one point it was over a lap (due to him staying out 6 laps longer than the rest), but once they rejoined, with Andrew Evans at the helm, they were in for a shock.
The #79 car, much like in Race 1, saw Alasdiar McCaig pushing hard, enjoying a fantastic battle with the #26 Tockwith Motorsport car of Richard Dean (United Autosport team boss) and Sarah Moore. Starting 6th, he made it up to 5th by Lap 2, before handing over the car to Colin Noble in 3rd. It was a mirror repeat of yesterday’s race for him, too. Engage pro driver; drive the tyres off the car and lap consistently in the mid 62 seconds. When the UA cars of Evans and Matt Bell (now in the #3) squabbled for the lead on Lap 32, Noble saw the opportunity to take both. Waiting patiently, he picked off Evans coming into the chicane on the same lap, before catching and passing the leader on Lap 37. From there, all he needed to do was to keep it on the Island, which he did successfully to take 2 wins from two races this weekend.
Sadly, Andrew Evans’ luck wasn’t going to last much longer. Losing out to Sarah Moore in the #26 on Lap 36 demoted him off the podium, but Lap 47 saw him clipping the kerb at the Old Hairpin, pushing him off wide, and ultimately into the barrier. That caused a red flag, and an early stoppage, just 4 minutes and 36 seconds from the end of the scheduled timer. United Autosport must be cursing their end-of-race luck from Donington Park, but had managed a consolation second place for the #3 car. Interestingly, the #26 car (which was 3rd at the end) was reportedly suffering from a slow puncture in the same manner as the #3 did yesterday. Probably quite glad the flag came out early then…
In all seriousness, it was another interesting race. Of biggest note was Bob Berridge’s stellar drive to 8th (despite getting a 1 second stop/go penalty for a short pitstop), soley driving that car as Andreus Demetriou withdrew from the entry overnight. The end result for the #79 might have been the same as yesterday; but wherever you look, there’s still plenty of promise at the early stages of the brand new LMP3 Cup championship.
Image c/o Nick Smith/theimageteam.com