Noble Holds Off Bell to Win at Paul Ricard
Nielsen Racing notched up its first Michelin Le Mans Cup victory with a Ligier since 2018 as Colin Noble and Tony Wells won Saturday’s two-hour LMP3 race at Paul Ricard.
After taking over the wheel from Wells’ opening stint, Noble beat Cool Racing’s Matt Bell in the closing stages to secure top honors for Nielsen’s No. 7 Ligier JS P320 Nissan.
The British drivers made their cars’ final pit stops late in the race, with Noble coming in one lap ahead of Bell who shared the No. 69 Ligier with Maurice Smith.
Noble emerged from his stop less than a second in front of Bell and managed to keep his rival at bay over the remaining three minutes. Wayne Boyd and John Schauerman’s United Autosports Ligier finished third, a further 40 seconds down the road.
Noble had earlier overtaken Bell for third with 32 minutes remaining, and also got past Dominik Schwaeger for second which became the lead when Josh Skelton’s Cool Racing Ligier caught fire in the pit lane.
Bell also found a way past Schwaeger’s Rinaldi Racing Duqueine D08 Nissan, which had faded to 14th by the checkered flag.
Nielsen won last year’s season finale with a Duqueine, but this marked its first accolade in the series since switching back to Ligier, with which it finished second in the 2018 championship standings.
The guesting Herberth Motosport duo of Alfred Renauer and Daniel Allemann won the GT3 class in their Porsche 911 GT3 R by less than a second from Rino Mastronardi and Logan Sargeant who shared the No. 8 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.
RESULTS: Paul Ricard
Ruud Goes Six-for-Six in TC America
Jacob Ruud continued his winning ways in TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School with a sweep of the weekend in the TCX class at Virginia International Raceway.
The Classic BMW driver doubled up in the pair of 40-minute scheduled races, which both ended early due to heavy accidents from MINI Coopers.
Austin Smith celebrated victories in both races in TC in his Auto Technic Racing BMW M240iR while Caleb Bacon and Luke Rumburg each won in TCA in their Forbush Performance Hyundai Veloster Turbos.
Race 1 came to an early end following an airborne crash for Mark Pombo in the No. 60 MINI JCW Pro TC car on a restart while Derek Jones clouted the tire barriers in his TCA class MINI in the closing minutes of Race 2.
While Jones climbed from his car unscathed, Pombo was transported to a hospital for evaluation following SRO Motorsports Group’s concussion protocol.
Other Racing Action
***The Italian GT Championship held its second Sprint round of the season at Misano last weekend. Matteo Greco and Fabrizio Crestani came away with the championship lead after winning race two in their Easy Race Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.
***Alpine conquered the FFSA French GT round at Albi as different A110 GT4 crews from the CMR team shared out the wins. Stephane Lemeret and Mateo Herrero prevailed in race one, before Nicolas Prost and Rudy Servol won race two. Race 1 / Race 2
***Title protagonists Mathieu Martin and Natan Bihel each tasted JS 2R category success in the penultimate round of the Ligier European Series season at Paul Ricard. Martin and his co-driver Olivier Pernaut won the first race, before Bihel added a fourth win to his 2021 account in the second contest. Race 1 / Race 2
News & Notes
***British GT4 Pro-Am class champions Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt will step up to the GT3 category for the upcoming rounds at Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and the Donington finale. Their McLaren 720S GT3 will be run by Team Rocket RJN.
***Super GT has rescheduled its Suzuka race to Aug. 22, the same weekend as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. CarGuy Racing and team owner Takeshi Kimura are tied to both events.
***The DTM has reduced its Monza season-opener race length from 55 minutes to 50 minutes due to the calculated fuel consumption of the series’ GT3-spec machinery. “We are playing it safe and, in view of the altered regulations and the premiere at this unique high-speed track, have adapted the race duration,” said Frederic Elsner, ITR Director of Event & Operations.
***K-PAX Racing’s Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper gave the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 its 100th victory in global competition, in Saturday’s Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race at Virginia International Raceway.
***Erin Vogel, meanwhile, became the first female driver to score a class win in the SRO America-run championship. Vogel teamed with Michael Cooper for Pro-Am class honors in Race 1 in their DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
***Fans will be permitted to attend this weekend’s ADAC GT Masters round at the Red Bull Ring, after the Oschersleben season-opener was held behind closed doors. Up to 3,000 spectators per day will be able to view the event from three grandstands.
On this weekend: FIA World Endurance Championship (Portimao), IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Detroit Belle Isle), ADAC GT Masters (Red Bull Ring)
John Dagys contributed to this report.