Monday July 23rd 2018
After two hours of hard-fought racing, Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing’s #79 Ligier JS P2 finished a very strong second in the Michelin Le Mans Cup round at the Red Bull Ring over the weekend.
Both Midlothian based Colin Noble and teammate Alasdair McCaig drove faultlessly throughout the race. They looked set to take their first win of the season in the second half, leading right up until the last lap when Noble suffered contact with the eventual winning car at the top of the hill at Remus corner, resulting in him dropping to second place.
The race started under Safety Car, due to heavy rain during the hour prior, meaning McCaig, on wet tyres, had to fight both the conditions and a drying track before the first round of stop.
After what was a frantic opening hour, McCaig ran as high as second but pitted the car third (after being passed by a car during a Full Course Yellow before the pit window opened). Despite the pit lane being so busy, and short of space, the Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing team managed to turn the car around quickly and send Noble on his way, up to second in the order.
Noble then proceeded to take huge chunks out of the leader, reducing a 48-second deficit to nothing in 20 minutes, taking the lead at Remus Corner, surviving a collision with the car ahead, who closed the door while Noble was up the inside taking the place.
From then it was a case of managing the gap for Noble, who had to hold off the hard-charging, championship-leading car, which spent much of the last half an hour reeling him in by a couple of tenths a lap. Noble was superb in defence though and responded to his rival’s quick times by consistently setting the #79 car’s fastest laps and overall fastest sectors throughout. He then held the lead despite running side-by-side through traffic on multiple occasions in the closing minutes.
But it wasn’t meant to be for the 21-year-old Scotsman, who was hit by the second place car more than once while defending his position on the run up to Remus corner on the final lap, eventually forcing him to drive through the gravel trap and bring the car home second. The team was bitterly disappointed with the steward’s decision, that no further action was warranted.
The #2 Ligier of James Littlejohn and Tony Wells meanwhile, started fifth behind the #79, and opted to pit an extra time to change to slicks when the track dried during the opening hour. The team eventually came home 10th overall.
The next stop on the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup calendar is at Spa-Francorchamps on 21-22 September.
Colin Noble said: “The whole team did a spectacular job today. Alasdair at the start did well to keep it clean in the tricky conditions, and the team then did well in the pits to ensure I had good track position for my stint.
“I thought my performance in the second half was one of the best of my career. It’s just disappointing that it ended the way it did on the last lap after such a fantastic run and effort. Nevertheless, there are many positives from the event.”
Alasdair McCaig: “The end result of today’s race, unfortunately, didn’t reflect the performance by the whole team. It’s a sickening feeling to lose a win on the final lap, but that’s racing sometimes.
“Both Colin (Noble) and I had near-perfect stints, in tough conditions. I actually enjoyed running in the wet at the start, especially as everyone had to push so hard on fading tyres.
“Colin then did a superb job to defend the lead towards the end. It’s just a shame it ended in contact, with no action taken by the stewards. We now look forward to Spa, I’m particularly fond of racing there, as it’s the circuit I have the most experience racing on.”Tweet Share on Facebook