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The day into night four hours of Barcelona saw strong performances by both Nielsen Racing entered LMP3 cars with P4 for Tony Wells and Colin Noble and a season best P6 for the sister car driven by James Littlejohn and series debutant Nick Adcock, who was substituting for the Nobuya Yamanaka who was unable to compete due to business commitments in Japan.
Whilst both crews can be satisfied with the results, the #7 car rued what may have been with a late race drive-through penalty for the Wells/Noble Norma taking away what would have been a certain podium after Tony was judged to have caused a collision making a pass on a rival which could have been construed as a racing incident on another occasion.
Nonetheless the P4 finish keeps the pairing in the hunt for overall honours with fifth place in the drivers’ championship, with James in the #8 car putting good points on the board to move into 11th in the standings with three rounds remaining.
Both cars ran strongly from the start, with Colin and James running as high as second and third in the opening hour, particularly impressive for James who progressed quickly at the start from a tenth at the start to head Colin in the opening laps, the Scot having started five places further forward after P5 in qualifying.
Both crews opted for a single/double/single driver stints with Tony and Nick taking advantage of a safety car period to make the first stops and take over from the starting drivers, battling through a two-hour period of intense track action to hand back to the “silver rated” partners for the run into darkness and the chequered flag.
Colin, taking over the car in P4 was soon relegated to P6 after serving the penalty but was straight back into the fray in a typical Colin Noble charge, chasing down and passing his rivals ahead and grabbing fourth position on the final corners of the last lap after pressuring the United Autosports car into a spin trying to defend the advances of the young Scot.
James was involved in his own equally intense fights, reeling in two places in the final stint for a strong sixth at the finish.
The next round of the ELMS tales place in the UK, at Silverstone on August 30/31
“In the end it was a good result for both cars, it’s a shame about the penalty for Tony, he could have been standing on the podium for sure. James and Nick did a really good job, with Nick having a consistent and trouble-free run in his first ELMS event.”
“It was pretty tough out there and the competition was as serious as ever. I pushed as hard as I could to make back the time lost with the drive through, my first experience of racing in darkness in that last stint certainly wasn’t made easy. I closed down the United car in the final stages and we had a real battle for a few laps until I got him when he spun out on the final corner, it’s a shame we didn’t have a few more laps as the next car driven by Tommy Erdos was only a few seconds up the road!”
“Obviously, my stint was defined by the penalty for the contact which gave us some work to do after the drive-through. It’s arguable weather the penalty was justified, I had a good run and was well up the inside into turn one, so I was surprised when he just turned in. I had nowhere to go and it was an unfortunate outcome. Still Colin did a great job putting in some good times to pull us back up to fourth in the end.”
“That was a tough race, pleased with P6 but maybe If we had made a different call on pit strategy under the first safety car we could have genuinely challenged for a podium. The last 45 minutes in the dark were really rough with a lot of bumping and barging. My tyres were completely worn and I was struggling at times to keep the car on track, but overall I am happy with the job Nick did subbing for Nobu and our result.”
“I really enjoyed my first ELMS experience, after 20. Years of racing it was for sure the highest and most intense level of competition I have come across. That, combined with the pace of the P2 cars and keeping clear of them was a challenge, I have experienced that in Asian Le Mans but in Europe, with the faster spec P2 cars they just seem to appear from nowhere. If you had said P6 on debut before we started, I would certainly been happy with that!”
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