Britain’s rising single-seater star Lando Norris made a remarkable sports-prototype début by immediately setting very competitive lap times in his first-ever run in an LMP2 sportscar. Norris, who celebrates his 18th birthday next Monday (13 Nov), clocked up almost 200-miles at Paul Ricard in France over two days at the wheel of the United Autosports Ligier JS P217 in preparation for his maiden Rolex 24 At Daytona next January (27-28).
McLaren’s official Formula 1 test and reserve driver for 2018 immediately clocked impressive lap times around the 3.63-mile Le Castellet circuit. His times compared very favourably to the European Le Mans Series qualifying time set in the same car by Filipe Albuquerque (1m 53.530secs) back in August staged in much hotter ambient and track temperatures. The track configuration was modified for today’s test to exclude the chicane on the 1.12-mile-long Mistral Straight with Norris again in mighty form.
The BRDC SuperStar shared the cockpit of United’s regular #32 Ligier with Paul di Resta then had the LMP2 machine to himself. Norris’s race experience of Paul Ricard amounts to just two Formula Renault races in August last year. The two-day test is likely to be Lando’s only opportunity to drive the Ligier prior to the Roar at Daytona (5-7 Jan).
Norris flies to Brazil on Sunday (12 Nov) to conduct an official tyre test for McLaren at Interlagos next Tuesday (14 Nov). It means he will not arrive in Macau for his final Formula 3 race weekend (18-19 Nov) until after Thursday’s opening practice session has finished. Indeed his scheduled arrival only sees him get to the track shortly before Thursday afternoon’s first qualifying session.
Lando Norris (GB): Born: Bristol, England. Aged 17.
“I enjoyed the experience, the Ligier is a fun car to drive, and I’m now really looking forward to getting to Daytona. I quickly adapted to the power, downforce, tyres and fuel loads. I’ve had limited running over the past two days and it’s a tricky car to nail everything and bring it all together. I wasn’t 100% comfortable in the car or with the car itself but United will modify my seat and the rest is down to me clocking up more miles which I’ll do at the Roar. The tyres will be different, Dunlop here compared to Continental at Daytona, and I ran on new and old rubber combined with long and short runs to get a good feel concerning the differences of a heavier car than I’m used to driving. It was actually nice to have a roof over my head for a change as my head wasn’t buffeted around by the wind.”