The #79 Nielsen Racing Ecurie Ecosse entry piloted by Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble snatched a dramatic win in the closing laps of Round 4 of the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship after Jamie Spence, driving the sister #23 Nielsen Racing entry went into the gravel at Stirlings following a puncture. The resulting obstruction brought out the red flag with six minutes to go.
Second across the line was the #3 United Autosports entry driven by Tony Wells and Matt Bell with Bell bring the car home.
Taking the final step of the podium was the #72 Douglas Motorsports entry, driven by Mike Newbould and Tom Randle.
The race had already endured a safety car period after CJ Wilson, driving the #2 United Autosports entry, also had an off at Stirlings. Wilson, by his own admittance, had had very little running time in the Ligier JS P3 prior to the the race but managed to recover the car back to the garage and rejoin the race, albeit some four laps behind the leaders. The #2 car did, however, finish seventh, picking up valuable points.
The result means that McCaig and Noble have increased their lead at the top of the standings, ahead of rounds five and six at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on June 10 -11.
Photo: United Autosports
CJ Wilson, former Major League Baseball star with the LA Angels, businessman and owner of CJ Wilson Racing, has a new sporting goal. He wants to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Ultimately my goal is to be a really fast driver, running at Le Mans whether its in GTE or LMP2,” said CJ, talking to EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd, ahead of his first outing in the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship at Brands Hatch.
“This is my first couple of months as a racer so I have a lot of room left to grow and I want to see how far my potential can take me.”
CJ Wilson has had very limited running in the United Autosports Ligier JS P3.
“We ran the Indy circuit on Friday so I had a couple of laps in the dry but it rained for my first stint so I only got four laps really. Obviously I haven’t really had a lot of chances to go round but this is absolutely a mega circuit. This is one of those tracks that as a kid you see videos of so I can see why this is such a big deal. This track is really a ballsy track. When you drive it on Forza, you don’t really get a sense of the elevation changes and the visibility of some of the corners. The Ligier is an incredible car but I’m not anywhere near experienced in that car yet. I did one test-day in the car a couple of months ago and then I came straight to here so there’s a lot of room left for me to improve.”
CJ sees huge potential for the LMP3 category as part of the development of endurance racing in the US.
“It’s good for me to have the experience of seeing this here and having a say because IMSA ask us ‘where do you think LMP3 should race?’ and I think it should be an endurance series in the States doing two-hour races. You’re then able to put multiple drivers in the car, defray the costs a little bit and make more of a show. Right now they’re running two sprint races of 40 minutes each for one driver and I don’t think that’s the best showcase for what these cars can do.”
United Autosports is also providing CJ with an example of how he would like to develop his own race team in the States.
“When you have a team like United Autosports who are obviously a first class championship winning team – that’s the team that I want my team to evolve into. To be around Richard and see how he manages everything and also to see the level of the crew, the level of preparation and professionalism – it gives me something to shoot for when I go back home.”
Jamie Spence, driving the #23 Nielsen Racing Ligier JS P3, took pole for Round Four of the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship after putting in a 1:21.446 on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
Eight cars took to the track for the ten-minute qualifying session. The #2 United Autosports entry, with C J Wilson at the wheel, got out for the ten-minute session after significant repairs overnight following an off at Druids in the previous day’s free practice session.
Also on track was the #72 Douglas Motorsports entry with Mike Newbould behind the wheel after clutch issues encountered the previous day were resolved overnight.
Nielsen Racing locked out the front row of the grid when Alasdair McCaig went second quickest with a 1:22.291 in the #79 entry.
Third quickest was the #3 United Autosports entry after Tony Wells put in a 1:22.703.
The lights go out for the 60-minute Round 4 of the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship at 14:10.
Photo Above: CJ Wilson Racing
Race team owner, driver, businessman and former professional baseball player CJ Wilson, along with Andrew Evans, will be joining United Autosports for an assault on the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship.
Wilson retired from professional baseball at the age of 36 to concentrate on developing his automotive dealership businesses which now include Mazda, BMW, KTM and Husqvarna amongst other brands, and his racing career. CJ Wilson Racing won the 2015 Continental Tire ST Class Championship and the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Playboy Cup.
Wilson is excited at the opportunities that the United Autosports drive offers.
“My goal is to develop as a driver and climb the ranks. United Autosports has proven they can win and develop drivers,” said Wilson. “Andrew and I decided that this is a huge opportunity to get across the Atlantic and challenge ourselves with an incredible platform in LMP3.”
His fellow driver for the 2017 LMP3 Cup Championship Andrew Evans, although at the start of his career, won the 2014 Pacific F2000 title before moving into IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites in 2016.
“This is an incredible opportunity to drive at some of Europe’s most iconic tracks in a Ligier JS P3,” said Evans. “Coming out of the 2016 IMSA Prototype Lites Championship, the move to LMP3 is an exciting step in my career. United Autosports is an exceptional teams, providing CJ and I with the foundation we need for success.”
United Autosports won the 2016 European Le Mans Series Drivers and Teams standings in the LMP3.
The 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship opens at Donington Park on April 22 – 23.
Bute Motorsport, organiser of the LMP3 Cup Championship, has announced a partnership with Henderson Insurance Brokers who will become title sponsor of the new-for-2017 prototype championship.
Bute Motorsport had previously announced on Friday January 6 that it had reached agreement on a three-year deal with the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (A.C.O.) to be the exclusive LMP3 championship in the UK.
The Monday January 9 announcement of a new title sponsor means that the championship will be known as the ‘Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship’.
“I’m thrilled to be expanding our motorsport activities by supporting the brand-new LMP3 Cup Championship,” said Founder and CEO of Henderson Insurance Brokers, Joe Henderson. “The LMP3 class has grown rapidly over the last few years and to be involved with the first ACO-sanctioned LMP3 championship is great.”
Bute Motorsport Director Chris Haynes said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Joe and his team at Henderson Insurance Group with their experience and motorsport enthusiasm. It is clearly an exciting opportunity for the Championship and we look forward to working with them as an intregral partner.
Henderson Insurance has a long-standing association with motorsport, having previously sponsored motorcycle rider James Toseland as well as teams in the British GT Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup.
The Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship is currently scheduled to be contested over six rounds with the opening round to be held at Donington Park on April 22 and 23.