The NEMO Racing team attended the annual Montpellier GP over the weekend, and through some testing conditions came away with some decent results..
The year the race was bestowed with unusually warm weather, but with a threat of the heavy rain that mean the race last year was stopped after qualifying.
Practice got underway and the usual track cleaning was taking place as the surface layer of dust was cleaned away, and by the time the top heats came around the track was clean and ready for them to lay down times. The three practice runs saw a big improvement for Darren, and by the end of Round 3 he was fast and comfortable in the top positions ready for qualifying. Edouard Hugon was also looking good along with the Skidmore brothers who were getting the groove.
Qualifying started well for Darren with a strong 3rd overall in round 1, even with a small error that potentially cost him the TQ. Jonny Skidmore was also flying and he was inside the top 20 along with Edouard. From there the runs got scrappy and the evidence was there that very few drivers seemed to be able to string 2 good runs together and not get caught up in traffic, this lead to a pretty disjointed overall qualification, but Darren was able to just be inside the top 10 an directly in the semi finals. Jonny Skidmore and Edouard Hugon were in the quarter finals and William Skidmore in the 1/8 finals.
Overnight rain saw the track in really wet condition, but some incredible work from the track crew saw a huge quantity of saw dust laid down to soak up the worst of it, and within half an hour the racing was back under way.
William Skidmore put in an excellent performance in his 1/8 final to clear the bar easily and join his brother in the quarter finals, albeit on the other side of the draw.
In his Quarter final William was running just outside the bump up places for the majority, but a few late race errors dropped him back. Still it was an excellent display. Edouard Hugon had a good start, and he was able to keep the run going to secure a semi final place with relative ease, a good performance to set him up. Jonny Skidmore was unlucky and had a terrible start to his final, but was subsequently able turn some fast laps, but was not able to get himself up to a semi final qualifying position.
With the track evolving constantly after the rain and saw dust, tyre choice was a moving target and many drivers were making the wrong choice. With the weather warm and the grip improving, drivers were of a mind to go harder on the compound.
Darren successfully negotiated his semi final, despite not having the best of runs, but at least he was in the final and would have the opportunity to go again.
With the weather warm, and the grip coming up, Darren elected to go with a harder compound for the hour long main final, and this in hindsight proved to be the wrong choice. The compound was just too firm, and he could never get it in to the working range and get right up to speed. Still on a track taking its toll on quite a few others he stayed away from any major trouble to finish a creditable 7th overall. It wasn’t the result we were hoping for, but with the up and down nature of the track conditions, many a driver had the same story to tell…
Next up we start some testing prior to the UK Nationals….