Since the CD Sport team began racing in the LMP3 category, the #30 Norma has had its work cut out. Just in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, it began by qualifying on the first row on the Paul Ricard track. Then, in Monza, it took fastest lap time which went on to become the lap record in its category for the venerable “Autodromo Nazionale”. After that came another front row start in curtain raiser to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, followed by several laps in the lead… and the red, orange, yellow, white and black prototype set its maiden pole position at the Red Bull Ring. What happened in Spa? It all looked as though there was a good place waiting up on the horizon of the Raidillon when it was suddenly swept away from the team in the pouring rain.
On Wednesday, the teams were allowed to run private practice tests. Anthony Pons was unavailable so Laurents Hörr took on both sessions which were on a dry track, and secured a fastest lap time. Apart from a few verification laps, Laurents let his team mate make the most of driving during the free practice sessions on Friday.
As stated in the rules, it was Anthony who drove to qualify and he got a good 6th place. When the race began the track was still mainly dry and when the lights turned green the CD Sport driver managed to avoid a spinning car, while both of the drivers in the front row went straight on into the Source hairpin. At the top of the Raidillon the first leader ended up in the tyre wall and the #30 Norma was in third place. At the end of the first lap Anthony had a look to the inside of the second placed driver but then he finally found it wiser to hold back. He fell back to his starting position as the rain got heavier and heavier. Anthony pulled in to change for wet tyres and then got on with the race. Unfortunately, on the fifteenth lap, he lost the car, spun and hit the wall at the top of the Raidillon. The driver went back to the pits to retire with a damaged rear suspension and wing.
Anthony Pons: “On Friday during the free practice sessions, the track was only dry for a couple of laps. Also it had been three months since I last drove. Given the context, I was quite happy with my 6th place in the qualifying session in a car that the team had really improved. All weekend we drove on a cold track and it was difficult to warm the tyres during a single formation lap. This probably explains the mistakes some drivers made at the start. I managed to sneak in and gain 3 places then I chose to play it safe. The rain started on the fourth lap. Choosing the right time to change tyres was like playing poker. There were several different strategies, those who began with wet-weather tyres, those who stopped before us and those who stopped later. Finally, I think that stopping while the rain was at its worst was the right choice. I managed to stay in 6th or 7th place for four laps in the downpour. I couldn’t see anything at all through the windscreen, I had to look through the side window and I couldn’t even drive flat out on the straight because of aquaplaning. In conditions like that it doesn’t take much to make a mistake. When I spun off at the top of the Raidillon, it didn’t feel like I was going any faster or that I’d changed line. Maybe I got caught in the dirty air of the car right in front of me? Anyway it’s the first time in ten years of competing that I crash during a race.”
Laurents Hörr: “On Wednesday during the free practice in the sun, I managed to beat the other drivers by 7-tenths during the first session and in the second, with old tyres, I set the second fastest lap. I just did a few laps at the beginning of both of the free practice sessions on Friday to let Anthony get more mileage. We found too much understeer which the team put right later. It’s a shame not to have driven during the race, as Spa is almost like playing at home for me, 400km away from where I live! I had many guests there including my main sponsor, and also the members of the go-kart team I look after. But I remain optimistic. People were able to notice my performances in dry conditions and in the rain.”
Claude Degrémont, team-manager: “Laurents was very rapid during the practice sessions. Anthony did well in qualifying and at the beginning of the race when conditions were far from being ideal. At the start, he managed to avoid getting caught in a boiling hot pack on a cold track! It had become hell at the end of the first half-hour; we changed for wet tyres at the right moment, with a good pit stop. Unfortunately, Anthony crashed, which we can put down to a twist of fate given the lack of visibility and grip.”
The next races for CD Sport are in Barcelona this weekend for the penultimate GT event of the season. As usual the #1 Porsche will be shared between the five-time champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup France B, Christophe Lapierre and the reigning French FFSA GT champion, Mike Parisy. The man from Pau won the 2017 crown with Gilles Vannelet who will be making his comeback driving nr 2 Porsche with young Florian Latorre.
To see the Norma back in action you will have to wait until the 6th and 7th October at the Le Mans V de V meeting!
Source. future racing