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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Caroline Candas on course for breakthrough victory

Caroline Candas has scored seven podium finishes in the opening 12 races of the FFSA TC season: with another runner-up finish at Dijon - the third of the season - Candas was within touching distance of her first victory.

Photo credits: SRO / Jules Beaumont

Making the step up into the TC division of the FFSA TC series, Caroline Candas has excelled and looks poised to claim her first victory in the championship. Driving a Peugeot 308 RC for JSB Competition, Caroline has scored seven podium finishes in the opening 12 races of the season. This includes three runner-up finishes, with two of those results featuring margins of less than one second from the class victory.

Moving into the highly-competitive TC class for 2023, Caroline competes in a predominantly one-make class of Peugeot 308 RC cars. With a significant speed increase from the Peugeot 208 RC she raced at the end of 2022, performance levels are close to that of TCR machinery which would be a natural next step for Candas. Despite races being just 25 minutes in length, traffic management is still a factor with up to four classes of car in each race, with Caroline regularly dealing with the slower Peugeot 208 RC traffic. The multi-class nature of racing in FFSA TC series allows Caroline to develop skills which would also be useful in endurance racing.

The six-round championship is now at its halfway point, with drivers contesting four races across each weekend with 24 races making up the FFSA TC season. The maximisation of track time makes it an attractive championship for drivers regardless of their experience level. This format has contributed to ever-increasing grid sizes with 11 Peugeot 308 RC cars at the most recent round at Dijon among a 28 strong total entry.

Caroline is up against competitors with a wealth of front-wheel drive racing experience, providing the perfect proving ground to develop her skills. On-track battles are regularly close, with race three at Magny Cours a prime example as Candas held onto second place by less than a tenth of a second from Brady Beltramelli.

Following a hugely impressive opening round at Nogaro, Caroline led the FFSA TC standings after claiming three podium finishes across the four races. This momentum continued into the next round at Magny Cours where she qualified second in both sessions, missing out on pole position in session one by less than two tenths of a second. A superb drive in race one allowed Candas to claim her second runner-up finish of the season, pressuring teammate Sebastien Thome to the finish. After fighting for a podium place in race two, a race held into the night, Caroline suffered from a mechanical issue which forced her to retire and put pay to a possibility of five straight podium finishes.

Further challenges were presented in race three, with drivers facing wet conditions at Magny Cours. Caroline rose to the challenge and drove superbly to claim a third second place result of the season, her fifth podium in seven races. This race also saw Candas lead a number of laps, with Thome making a last lap pass to claim victory. Misfortune once again befell Caroline in race four, with contact on the opening lap taking away any chance of a good finish. This meant Caroline left Magny Cours fourth in the FFSA TC standings, but with many positives to take away after showing excellent speed in both dark and wet conditions across the weekend.

Photo credits: SRO / Jules Benichou

Arriving at Dijon for round three, Caroline was looking for a return to the podium and once again challenge for a class victory. Candas qualified second and fifth for opening two races, with her fastest lap in qualifying one less than half a second behind Florian Briche, the eventual winner of the first three races. Showing excellent speed during race one, Caroline was cruelly denied a runner-up finish with final lap mechanical issues leading to a retirement.

Determined to bounce back in race two, Caroline enjoyed brilliant on-track battles with Rodolphe Spitz and Thome, attempting to catch her the latter as the race progressed.

Just falling short of the second step of the podium, Candas claimed a well-deserved third as she stood on the rostrum for the first time at Dijon. Although race three provided some challenges, Caroline still claimed championship points for finishing in ninth.

However, the fourth and final race of the weekend proved to be the highlight. Despite running as low as eighth in the opening stages, multiple safety car periods allowed Candas to charge through the field. With just two minutes remaining in the race, Caroline was running fourth but overtook both Briche and Thome to finish just two tenths of a second behind race winner Brady Beltramelli. This race underlined both her speed and racecraft, once again coming within touching distance of her first victory in the FFSA TC series.

Having already raced at Nogaro, Magny Cours and Dijon, three rounds remain with the next stop on the calendar being Circuit de Val de Vienne on the weekend of 8th/9th July. The venue will be hosting the FFSA GT Championship package for the first time since 2015 and with few drivers having raced at this circuit before, this will give Caroline extra motivation to begin the weekend on a high.

Her consistency during the season has been commendable as she searches for her first victory, with the top step of the podium a firm target as the FFSA TC series enters the second half of the season.

Photo credits: SRO / Patrick Hecq Photography



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