PAUL-RICARD - 4th July 2010. Last weekend Niels Lagrange made his European motorsport debut, a milestone in his young career. In fact the fourth meeting of the FIA GT3 European Championship took place on the Paul Ricard circuit. The...
PAUL-RICARD - 4th July 2010. Last weekend Niels Lagrange made his European motorsport debut, a milestone in his young career. In fact the fourth meeting of the FIA GT3 European Championship took place on the Paul Ricard circuit. The young Limburg-based Lagrange competed there together with the Spaniard Jose Luis Cunill at the wheel of an Argo Racing Lamborghini Gallardo LP560. For the young 19 year old Lagrange this was in fact the first time that he had been in action on this southern French circuit.
Free practice - qualifying
For the Belgo-Spanish duo the free practice sessions at Paul Ricard ran smoothly, with a fifth best time in the first session and a second in the final practice session. "In the beginning I needed to find my way a bit, as it was the first time that I had driven on the Le Castellet circuit. It also took some time to get the car under control, however I'm fully convinced that all will turn out well during the weekend." Niels commented after the first day at Paul Ricard.
During qualifying on Saturday there was a moment of panic when Jose Luis Cunill, in his qualifying laps, was forced to pull off the track as the result of problems with the drive shaft. Due to this technical problem the car was unable to continue in this first session and would therefore have to start the first race from the pitlane. Fortunately the car was back in order for the second session, and Niels clocked up a fifteenth best time. Race 1
In the first race on Saturday midday Cunill was forced to take the start from the pitlane and an early safety car procedure held the Spaniard back in last spot for a long time. After that he made a brilliant come back up into tenth place. The team decided to hold back the mandatory driver change- over as long as possible within the set norms, whereby Cunill even managed to climb up into fourth slot. When Niels took over the wheel from his team mate the Lambo reappeared on the track in tenth place, proof that the team put in a good performance. Lagrange very quickly moved up two places. The young Limburg-based driver fought out a brilliant duel with four cars for eighth place and Niels finally managed to finish in ninth place, scoring his first points in the FIA GT3 European Championship. "I learned a great deal during the race, even though I reckon I spent too much time hanging around up behind the Corvette. I'm pretty satisfied with my debut here, especially seeing I still managed to finish within the points."
For the second race Lagrange took the start from 5th on the grid, but during the first lap a spoiler landed on his roof as the result of an incident between the #2 Aston Martin and the BMW Alpina B6. Niels was able to continue unscathed and brought the Lamborghini back up into the fray of the race. After 24 minutes he brought the car into the pits letting his Spanish team mate finish off the race. "I had a good start, but suddenly this spoiler flew on to my roof. After that I drove a constant race, even though I shouldn't have held back quite so much during some of the overtaking manoeuvres. I'm really satisfied with the work put in by my team and Cunill's performances. During my stint I tried to save my tyres for him and he finished off the race brilliantly with that fifth place!" was the reaction of our proud Belgian in this European GT3 championship.
The following FIA GT3 European Championship meeting takes places in Portugal on 19th September. "It's a great pity that I cannot compete there seeing it coincides with the Belcar meeting at Spa. But without a doubt I'll be there in Zolder, for the final round of the GT3 championship." So if you want to see Niels in action come on down to the Limburg circuit on 9th and 10th October...