Caroline Candas claims first ever FFSA TC victory
After finishing on the podium seven times prior to this weekend, 20-year-old Caroline Candas has claimed her first victory of the season at Val de Vienne, in her debut year in the FFSA TC Championship.
Twenty-year-old French driver Caroline Candas has enjoyed a breakthrough weekend in the FFSA TC series, claiming her first victory of the season at Val de Vienne. After finishing on the podium seven times prior to this weekend, Candas was a consistent frontrunner in her debut year in the championship and had come narrowly close to her maiden win on a number of occasions. This step forward will give Caroline added confidence heading into the summer break in what has been a hugely successful season to date.
Looking to build upon her impressive start to the season, Caroline was aiming for a fast start at Val de Vienne. With few drivers having any past experience of the circuit, the pair of free practice sessions to open the weekend would be vital. Setting the sixth fastest time in the first session, Candas improved her fastest time by almost a second in final practice to move inside the top-5. The second session was also held in twilight in preparation for partially-dark race two, allowing drivers to gain familiarisation with the changing conditions.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning with Caroline aiming to improve on her times from free practice. Despite only having around 12 minutes in order to set fast times, Candas’ improvements were impressive, gaining almost two seconds from her best time the previous day. Her consistency was equally noteworthy, setting two laps within one tenth of a second of each other to qualify third in the TC class. As Caroline planned not to take part in races two and four, she did not participate in the second qualifying session and was looking ahead to the opening race.
Starting from third position in race one, Caroline made a good start to avoid a first lap incident with the safety car being deployed before the end of the opening lap. After a lengthy neutralisation period, Candas was keen to improve on her third position at the restart and did just that by passing Brady Beltramelli on lap six. From there she began chasing leader Sebastien Thome to challenge for her first victory in the FFSA TC series.
Despite crossing the line in second position, Thome received a post-race penalty which elevated Caroline to top spot as she inherited the TC class victory. It was a fully deserved victory for Candas who has displayed frontrunning pace at every meeting to date.
Caroline’s second race of the weekend, race three overall for the FFSA TC series, took place in wet conditions and thus began behind the safety car. Starting from third, Candas immediately moved up to second before the safety car was redeployed following an incident further down the field. As racing resumed, Caroline held off Brady Beltramelli before an intermittent mechanical issue halted her progress. Dealing with the issue as best she could, Candas dropped down the order in the subsequent laps and fell to sixth by lap eight.
From there, she enjoyed a great battle with Jose Beltramelli, trading places with her rival before the issue caused her to stabilise in sixth. Running her quickest lap of the race on the final lap underlined the potential of another podium finish, with Caroline crossing the line in sixth place to secure valuable championship points.
In hope that the issue had been resolved, Caroline took the start in race four in a change from her original plans. This meant that she started from 16th overall, eighth in the TC class and in dry conditions, would be looking to charge her way through the field. By the end of the opening lap, Caroline had passed seven cars and ran seventh in TC.
With the issue resurfacing, Candas was unable to make any further progress and retired to the pits with two laps remaining, still remaining a classified finisher in seventh. Despite the final race retirement, it was a hugely positive weekend for the young driver who once again showed her skill in a highly competitive championship.
Claiming her first FFSA TC victory should fill Candas with confidence heading into the summer break. Showing superb pace in both wet and dry conditions underlines Caroline’s adaptability and overcoming adversity to score points in her second race was a further achievement.
Candas will be targeting a return to the podium following a lengthy break with the next round of the FFSA TC championship taking place at Ledenon on the weekend of 23rd/24th September.