The Five-Car Effort Had A Strong Showing
The Ecurie Ecosse/ Nielsen Racing squad took the most famous team in Scottish motorsport back to the scene of its greatest triumph last weekend, when it fielded an incredible five-car entry in the support races for the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours
Featuring a pair of 55-minute races on the full 13.6 km Le Mans circuit, composed mainly of closed public roads and welcoming a crowd of more than 250,000, Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen’s leading crews proved to be highly competitive.
In Qualifying two of the team’s 420 bhp Nissan V8-powered Ligier LMP3 cars set times good enough for top 10 starts in the first race on Thursday as part of the packed 50-car field. James Littlejohn set the third fastest lap in the team’s #2 car while 21-year-old Scottish rising star Colin Noble tenth fastest in the #79 Ligier.
Then, in Qualifying 2 for the Saturday morning race, Noble’s season-long driving partner in the #79, Alasdair McCaig, set a fine eighth fastest time against very strong opposition.
After a frantic 55 minutes of racing on Thursday evening, Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing scored an impressive fifth place finish overall with its #79 Ligier JS P3 of Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble.
McCaig took the start of the race, and ran 11th through the opening laps, before climbing to 10th after four laps of racing. Drama then struck the Scotsman on the pit straight on the fifth lap of the race, the car slowing momentarily, dropping him to 13th overall.
Quick pit work though, helped the team mightily, McCaig handing over to Noble for the second half of the race, the car re-joining the race up to eighth. From there, it was a real fight for Noble, who with multiple consistent laps, managed to fight his way up to fifth place in the final 10 minutes of the race, and battled for fourth while defending hard from an ex-factory driver behind all the way to the flag.
Race 1 was also fruitful for the #76 Ligier of Christian Olsen and Alex Kapadia. Like the #79, the #76 also hit trouble early on, Olsen taking the start and having an off on Lap 2, dropping to 32nd place after starting the race 16th. But Olsen didn’t give up, and fought hard to put the car in contention for a good finish, climbing back up to 16th after multiple moves on other cars and benefitting from penalties and incidents befalling competitors.
When Olsen pitted, Kapadia climbed in and started his stint down to 18th. He then went on a charge, and finished up the race eighth, after an incident-filled final few laps.
In the second and final race of the week, four of Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing’s five Ligier JS P3s finished, in which proved to be a challenging outing for the team on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The highest placed finisher was the #76 of Christian Olsen and Alex Kapadia, which enjoyed a remarkable run through the 50-car field to 12th after starting the race 47th due to the car not setting a qualifying time.
The team’s other four cars had a challenging outing, the #79 of Colin Noble and Alasdair McCaig in the running to be the leading Ligier and finish in the top five early on before contact for Noble with another runner at the second Mulsanne chicane just before the halfway mark sent the car spinning into the gravel with rear-right damage and into retirement.
The team will be back in action again next month in the European Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup on the 21-22 July at the world-famous Red Bull Ring.
“The five-car effort from Ecurie Ecosse Nielsen Racing at by far the biggest race meeting of the year was impressive, and we came home with some real positives. To take the Ecurie Ecosse name back to Le Mans, where the original team won the race overall, is a very special thing both for the team as a whole and for me personally. We learned a lot once again from the experience and will be back for more!”
“Whilst it’s always frustrating to come back from any race meeting without the best result you feel you could have achieved, the more important thing here is to have learnt as much as we can, as a team, and as individual drivers, about the amazing Le Mans circuit. There is nothing like it anywhere else in motorsport and experience there is key. I intend to be back and racing for better results in the near future!”