07 April, 2012
Reigate's Nick Padmore, and co-drivers Jean-Lou Rihon and Simon Phillips, got their French V de V season off to a fine start by posting 2nd place at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona last weekend.
After struggling with tyre problems in open practice on Friday, they managed to put the Team TFT Norma M20 FC in 7th by the end of Saturday morning's qualifying session, despite the drivers being given only three laps each to strategically save more sets for the race.
Rihon started the 6-hour race and was immediately on the pace and, despite having to conserve fuel, allowing him to stay out longer, he handed the car over to Phillips in P4.
Phillips continued Rihon's strong display, putting in consistent times before handing over to Padmore in 6th position for the last 1 hour 55 minutes.
Padmore soon got back up to P4 and kept pushing to maximise the teams strategy, putting the #34 entry in 2nd position. In the closing stages of the race he was forced to back off to save fuel but held position to the chequered flag.
"It was a very tough race but a great way to start the season. Everything went to plan, our strategy was good and the car didn't miss a beat. Jean-Lou, Simon, and the guys at Team TFT have done a job we can all be proud of this weekend.
"The track is really hard on tyres and we had trouble finding the right balance in testing but we used the time wisely, pulled together and were in good shape for qualifying.
"In the race it was so hot in the car and when I was following the P2 car during my stint, I had to keep pulling out of the slipstream just to get some cooler air flowing through, and around, the car. In the closing stages we were very tight on fuel so I got the call on the radio to back off and by the end, I think there were only 5 kilos of fuel left in the tank!
"Everything worked very well and went to plan this weekend but we can't get complacent - there's still a long way to go so we have to stay focused and keep pushing for the next race at Le Mans which I'm sure will present us with its own set of challenges."
Round 2 of the French V de V Championship takes place at Le Mans, France on 27 - 29 April. In the meantime, Padmore returns to Radical UK Cup duties, sharing the RAW Motorsport entry with co-driver Gary Kane, in two weeks' time (14 April) at Silverstone and will run in support of the FIA Formula 2 Championship. After taking 3rd and 1st places in the opening two races at Snetterton last month, the pair head to Silverstone as the championship leaders and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.