Having secured a double victory on their LMP3 debut last month at Donington Park, Ecurie Ecosse had high expectations for their debut in the Michelin Le Mans Cup this weekend (12-13 May, 2017) at the historic Grand Prix circuit of Monza where Colin Noble was sharing the car with 2016 Radical European Masters Champion Tony Wells. The pair duly delivered with a superb victory to start their new European campaign in style.
“The two wins previously at Donington were good, but this even better, a bigger event, so it’s really good to win on this stage,” said race-winner Colin after taking the chequered flag. “It was a great race and it was set for quite a close finish but (Alexander) Toril got a penalty and that was quite a relief as he was so fast down the straights. I was pushing hard, putting in consistent laps and trying to gain time in the middle-sector. He may have caught us but he would have had a big fight from me for the lead…”
Noble and Tony Wells teamed up in the #79 Nielsen-run Ligier Nissan and practice showed that they were on the pace from the outset with second and fifth on the timesheet. Wells put in a great run in qualifying, just missing out on the pole by 0.05s but content to settle for a front row start for Saturday’s race.
Wells made a great getaway at the start of the two-hour race, maintaining his position and fending off a challenge from behind. A safety car period followed and when the racing resumed shortly after, Wells was content to allow two of the Pro drivers gain position and hand over to Noble in fourth position at the half-way mark.
A good pit stop by the Nielsen Racing personnel who run the Ecurie ecosse car, whilst some others had issues, saw Colin run second straight out of the pits before making an audacious pass around the outside of Curva Grande to take the lead. With 50 minutes of racing remaining, there was still a lot of work to do as the chasing #3 DKR Engineering car kept the pressure on the young Scottish racer.
With the gap down to just a few seconds, the second-placed car was awarded two drive through penalties for pit stop rule infringements and with the pressure off, Noble brought the car home with a comfortable 50-second advantage to claim a sensational debut win in the Le Mans Cup and to make it three-from-three in LMP3 this year.
“I was really pleased with qualifying, a small mistake at Ascari lost me the pole, but no complaints,” Wells said. “It’s such a nice thing to look down the straight at Monza with nobody in front of you, so that was key. The start went well and I stayed second until the two Pro drivers overtook me and I dropped to fourth. That was fine so I just then put in consistent laps to keep us in the hunt and to hand over to Colin. This result is so rewarding, it’s fabulous.”
The team now turn their attention to the Henderson LMP3 Cup at Brands Hatch next weekend (20/21st May) before heading to Spa and Le Mans…