LOOSE PANEL FORCES EARLY RETIREMENT FOR RACING EXPERIENCE TEAM
The Racing Experience team’s hopes for a strong points haul at home were dashed today when a panel came loose on the no. 11 Norma after contact with another car, forcing the team to pit for repairs.
After a positive last outing in Barcelona which saw the team secure a sixth place finish, confidence was high ahead of the team’s home race at Spa-Francorchamps.
With competitive pace throughout the weekend’s practice sessions and a good qualifying performance, the duo of Nicolas Mélin and Gary Hauser hoped for a strong result before heading to the season finale in Portimão next month.
Starting in seventh place, bronze driver Mélin quickly found his stride. The Frenchman gained a position on the first lap before he even reached the famous fast sweep of Raidillon and was promoted to fifth position soon after when a competitor ahead spun his car.
Mélin had settled in to his rhythm in fifth position and was working to maintain a healthy gap but it soon became apparent that a panel on the rear left of this Norma M30 had come loose following contact with another car. This ‘legality panel’ is a compulsory part for all LMP3 cars in the championship and Mélin was therefore forced to return to the pits for repairs.
Due to the number of laps lost while in the pits, the team made the decision to retire the car.
Christian Hauser, Racing Experience team principal said:“We are investigating the incident that caused the panel on the rear of the car to come loose. Of course, after a two-month gap in racing, we were hoping to get the most out of today’s race and to secure a strong finish at a track we know well. We are disappointed to bring our home race to a close this early, especially before Gary could get in the car, but that is racing.”
Nicolas Mélin, Racing Experience driver said:“We had a great start to the race. Everything felt right and the car was running very well. We had a strong qualifying and had gained positions in the first laps of the race. The feeling was good and I was looking forward to finishing my stint and handing the car to Gary. I’m disappointed to have a race ended by something that is out of our control and sad for Gary that he has missed the chance to race at a track he loves but we will focus now on the final race.”
Gary Hauser, Racing Experience driver said: “While I am sad to miss out on taking part in the race, this is something that we will expect sometimes in this sport. Nicolas did a great job to put the car in fifth position and I was looking forward to some exciting racing, but we respect that the rules are there to keep everything fair and safe. We know that our luck will return, hopefully in time for some fun in the final race next month.”
The final round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup will take place in Portimão on October 27.