Tony Wells and Matt Bell claimed a commanding victory in round 11 of the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship around Donington Park’s GP circuit.
The pair led home a United Autosports one-two, bouncing back after disappointment last time out at Snetterton to secure the trophies.
Christian England maintained his pole position up until mandatory pit stops at the half-hour mark in the #2 United Autosports Ligier, handing over to Andrew Evans who took up the task of fending off the attack of champions-elect Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble in the #79 Ecurie Ecosse Neilsen Racing Ligier.
Wells handed his third-placed Ligier over to Bell who instantly gave chase to the leaders, passing Evans at Melbourne Hairpin before grabbing the lead from the Ecurie Ecosse car which he wouldn’t relinquish.
“Absolutely brilliant to end the day on a win”, said Bell. “We’ve done a lot of work all season, but we’ve gradually improved our pace and it was a strong performance in that race. It’s a good team victory that one.” Wells added “the car was good, so I’ll look at some more data and see how I can go even quicker in race two! It was the perfect result.”
Evans could not fend off the third United Autosports car of a rapid Sandy Mitchell, the Young Driver Initiative winner easing by the former to snatch second for himself and Sir Chris Hoy. On his maiden outing, Mitchell said “I managed to put in a few overtaking moves and the car was brilliant, so a massive thanks to the team and everyone for giving me this experience. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
Hoy added: “it was great to be back in one of these cars. I really enjoyed it and it felt beautiful to drive and very nicely balanced. I handed it over to Sandy and he did a mega job at the end to bring home the result.”
Third place went the way of the charging Jason Rishover and Jamie Spence. The Nielsen Racing duo entered the second half of the race fifth, but Spence overpowered both Jack Butel and Evans in the final minutes to grab the final spot on the podium.
“Whenever you’re on the podium, you always feel fantastic”, said Rishover. “We didn’t have the fastest car out there, but we certainly did a great job with it. I’m pleased to be back in the series and back up on the podium.”
Spence added: “it was hard work and we got the result so I’m pleased for the team. We’ve got some improvements to make tomorrow, but we know what they are and we’re looking forward to it.”
Race 1 results:
Tony Wells/Matt Bell – #3 United Autosports
Chris Hoy/Sandy Mitchell – #32 United Autosports
Jason Rishover/Jamie Spence – #23 Nielsen Racing
Jack Butel took his first Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship victory in a dramatic end-of-season race on a wet Donington Park GP circuit.
In a race-long battle with the 2017 championship-winning #79 car of Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble, Butel ultimately was victorious as Noble slid off into the barriers in the tricky conditions. This caused a red flag to be shown and brought the race to a premature end, which meant Butel also secured third place in the championship.
“Qualifying was good and I got a good start in the race,” said Butel, who also overcame an extra 17 seconds on his pit stop. “I’ve always been quite quick in the rain which really shows what that car can do. It was brilliant. It was great to end the season on a high.”
The United Autosports pair of Tony Wells and Matt Bell finished in second place after a good start set the pace for their race. Quickly overtaking Christian England in the early stages, the pair drove strongly and consistently to complete their final race of the season and wrap up second in the championship.
“The start was great, I passed Christian and got into second,” said Wells. “We then got the lead. It was great really, it’s a great car to drive.”
Bell added: “We didn’t have a lot of grip, so I think we could’ve done better without the rain.”
Jamie Spence and Jason Rishover completed the podium, to bookend a positive season for the pairing, who were happy to have taken another third place this weekend.
“Yesterday wasn’t really wanted we wanted, we did struggle a bit,” Rishover said. “But we got a spot on the podium which is good. It took me a few laps to get used to the weather and you just have to hang in there, which we did and got a finish on the podium today.”
Spence found it tough on track but enjoyed his afternoon. “The rain got really heavy and I know where Colin went off it nearly cost me my race too,” he said. “I enjoyed this race. To come back and do two podiums is pretty good.”
1: Jack Butel – #96 Speedworks Motorsport
2: Tony Wells / Matt Bell – #3 United Autosports
3: Jason Rishover / Jamie Spence – #23 Nielsen Racing