It’s been a very successful season for Nielsen Racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, and this continued this weekend in Portimão, the final round of the championship, with a superb second place finish for Colin Noble and Tony Wells in the #2 Norma M30.
With podiums at Paul Ricard, Monza, Barcelona and Spa Francorchamps – plus the heartbreak at Spa Francorchamps – the team were confident heading into the race weekend with the #2 entry as well as the #20 Grainmarket Norma driven by Alex Mortimer and Mark Crader.
Following practice, qualifying came down to Tony and Mark respectively. The Bronze racers went on to record the sixth and 13th best times respectively.
It was an early start Sunday morning, with the two drivers taking up their positions on the grid. Tony made a good start to gain a position into the first corner from the #5 DKR Engineering and set after the #39 Graff, soon gaining the spot to run a solid fourth overall.
Tony set about closing the margin to the #25 Lanan Racing entry before pitting and handing the #7 Norma over to Colin. Just ahead the two championship rivals collided with the #3 DKR losing ground, while the #25 Lanan car pitted for a penalty and was out of the running. Colin now ran in second position and despite closing the gap to the race winner, had to settled for second.
The sister car of Mark and Alex had a tougher race and were unable to repeat the great performances that sae them finish fourth at Monza and Spa. The former made a good getaway at the start to gain three positions to run in tenth. An early tactical stop should have paid dividends, but a sticking wheel gun resulted in a longer than planned stop. Mark completed his stint and handed over to Alex who did another solid job to bring the #20 Norma home in 14th position.
With five podiums from seven starts, Nielsen Racing finish the Michelin Le Mans Cup championship in third position. The team now begin preparations for the Asian Le Mans Series, where they will field two Norma entries for Colin and Tony as well as Rob Hodes and Garett Grist.
Stuart Moseley, MLMC Team Manager
“As a season as a whole, we’ve seen lots of good results to finish in third overall in the championship. We have to be pleased with that but ultimately, we did have higher aspirations, but given some misfortune, third is a good result for us.
“We’ve learned a lot over the season as we ran the Norma for the first time in both series and as ever, we need to find more pace and continue to up our game as the grid is getting more and more experienced. Many pluses, a few ifs and whys, but a good season of racing.”
“It was a fairly straight forward race for me as the car had good pace, but it is very difficult to pass here, so perhaps qualifying hurt us a little and stopped us running closer to the front from the start. But second is a good result and I’m very happy to finish the season off with another strong showing.”