Caroline Candas closes out the season with a pair of podium finishes
Caroline Candas has ended the FFSA TC Series season in impressive fashion with a fantastic weekend at Le Castellet: at her debut season, the young French racer took her season’s tally of podium finishes into double figures and sealed third place in the overall championship standings.
Caroline Candas has ended the FFSA TC Series season in impressive fashion with a fantastic weekend at Le Castellet. Qualifying an excellent second in her first daytime running of the weekend, Candas backed this up with a superb runner-up finish in race one.
Returning to the podium again in race two, Caroline’s third place result took her season’s tally of podium finishes into double figures and ensured she sealed third place in the overall championship standings.
Looking to bounce back and end the season on a high, Caroline was excited to drive at Le Castellet which was a circuit familiar to her. Driving in two of the scheduled four races across the weekend, she would once again share the Peugeot 308RC with Jonas Venier.
With the race programme featuring a night race, both practice sessions would be held under the lights despite Candas’ scheduled races taking play in daylight. Caroline drove in session one and set the fourth fastest time, showing consistent lap time improvements to finishing within touching distance of the two closest drivers ahead.
Caroline then competed in the first qualifying session on Saturday morning and immediately improved on her time from practice. Taking advantage of the peak of tyre performance, Candas delivered a fantastic time in the opening laps of the session which saw her place second in class, losing out only to championship leader Florian Briche.
Maintaining a gap of over a second to the nearest class rival, with four drivers from other classes separating herself from Sebastien Thome, this put her in an ideal position ahead of two competitive races to follow.
Lining up second in class for the opening race of the weekend, Caroline maintained her runner-up position at the conclusion of lap one. Attempting to build a gap to Sebastien Thome, Candas smartly dealt with faster cars from other classes, with this challenge made tougher by the different strengths and weaknesses of the cars she was battling with.
On lap five, Caroline started to come under pressure from Thome, but resisted this well and responded with her personal best final sector on lap six to extend this gap to over a second.
Caroline continued to gain confidence after repelling the threat from Thome and this saw her set her personal best lap time on lap seven, just three tenths of a second away from her qualifying benchmark.
As the race entered the final stages, Candas continued to negotiated traffic well which included conceding an overall position to the TCR class machine of Dorian Duthil. This smart race management assured Caroline returned to the podium with a second place finish in class, building a margin of 15 seconds to her nearest challenger.
Starting the final race of the season from second, Caroline made another good start to hold her position over a fast-starting Sebastien Thome. At the end of lap two, Candas’ margin over her rival was less than half a second but with the Ligier of Nicco Ferrarin slotting in between the drivers on lap three, this gave Caroline some breathing space. The following lap saw the young French racer set her fastest lap of the entire weekend as the gap over Thome increased to a little over a second.
As the drivers began to catch traffic, this played into the hands of her competitor with Thome making the move for second on lap five. Candas then drove smartly to allow cars from faster classes to pass her, with the aim of following them through as they caught up to her class rival.
With Thome extending this gap in the latter stages of the race, Caroline was unable to make a move but took the checkered flag in third position to claim a valuable 15 points and seal a fantastic third place in the FFSA TC Series standings.
Caroline has enjoyed an extremely positive debut season in the FFSA TC Series as the young French driver was a regular podium finisher, while also claiming a breakthrough victory at Val de Vienne. Taking her podium tally into double figures at Le Castellet, Candas showed fantastic pace in both qualifying and the pair of the races and this allowed her to claim third place in the championship, despite only driving in four of the final eight races of the season.
Dealing with both faster and slower cars throughout the campaign, Caroline has continued to develop her traffic management skills, while fighting for top positions in class. Looking ahead to 2024, Caroline will be aiming to secure the budget required to put together a full season campaign and build on the momentum she has built throughout this season.