It is good to have time on your side, but when Kelly-Moss Road and Race debuted the Norma M30 LMP3 car with Colin Thompson in the opening race of the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda season, time was the last thing that the team had.
The opening event of the year at Sebring saw the team receive the car from France through customs with no time to spare. The squad unpacked and assembled the only Norma in existence right in the Sebring paddock to be ready to go for the opening race weekend.
That huge effort saw the Norma demonstrate a strong race weekend pace as Thomson overcame a race one mechanical setback to score second place in round two.
“The KMR guys did an amazing job at Sebring to even have the car ready to go for the first practice,” said Thompson, who has won a pair of championships with the team. “And when we lost the driveshaft in race one, they worked a miracle to have the car capable of taking a podium like we did in race two.”
Now, with a few weeks of familiarity with the French-built machine as well as a recent productive test at Barber Motorsports Park, the team is hoping to build on the promise of the Sebring weekend in its second outing with the Norma.
“We got the chance to test, so we have a much better idea of what the car likes going into the Barber weekend,” said Thompson.
“At the same time, we’ve only just started to get to know the car so we expect to get stronger as the season goes on and as we keep improving the car.
“We also went through to make sure we wouldn’t have the same issue that we did in Sebring, and feel a lot better about the system adjustments we’ve made ahead of this weekend.”
Having opened the team’s 29th season of competition on a winning note at Sebring with the team’s IMSA Porsche GT3 by Yokohama effort, the ambitious dual program is looking to return to its winning ways again in Alabama.
“Our Sebring race was definitely a trial by fire with the Norma, but we came out of there with a podium and now with a test under our belt, we are in much better shape ahead of Barber,” said team owner Jeff Stone.
“The Norma is very good, particularly with its aero package so even though Barber might not be the best track for the car, we know that we will learn a lot and should be able to be competitive again.
“It’s just great that I’m not having to check with customs every 10 minutes to see where the car is this time around!”
The Barber facility, which features an incredible motorcycle museum as well as an eclectic collection of art, has a 2.3-mile circuit that is made of a little bit of everything and is a frequent driver favorite.
“Barber is a great track—immaculate and very technical,” said Thompson. “There are also all the elevation changes so it is a really fun lap for the drivers.
“I love racing there—but I’ve had terrible luck there in the past! Hopefully we can turn that around this weekend with some solid results.
“Barber is a track that will probably be good for the Ligiers, but I think we should be right on the pace with our Norma.
“Our DNF in the first race at Sebring really hurt us, so we just want to focus on consistent, solid results to fight back into the championship.”