Friday 21 October 2016

European Le Mans Series - 4 Hours of Estoril: Beche fastest after an eventful first practice session

After an eventful first practice session this afternoon in an overcast Estoril, Mathias Beche put the #46 Thiriet by TDS Ligier on top of the timesheets.

Most of the quickest times of the day were set in the early stages of the session. Beche almost immediately drove a 1.31.647, a time that would stand 'till the end of the session. Olivier Pla in the #40 Krohn Racing Ligier answered with a 1.32.306 which gave him second place but already 0.668 seconds behind the #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca. Nathanael Berthon went third fastest in the #41 Greaves Motorsport Ligier, only 0.090 seconds slower than Pla. 

With just over 10 minutes of running in the session Simon Dolan got into a graveltrap at turn 6, causing the first full course yellow of the afternoon. The #38 G-Drive Gibson didn't get higher than seventh place in the class at the end of the session.  

A second full course yellow was deployed when the #2 United Autosports Ligier went into the gravel at turn 2 and almost at the same time the #12 Eurointernational LMP3 exiting turn 3. 

With about 20 minutes to go, the #17 Ulitmate Ligier JSP3 of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye went hard into the barriers at the first corner after a spin, severely damaging the nose of the car. Lahaye got out of the car unharmed, but repairs lasted too long to get the session going again. 

Yann Erlacher set the fastest time in LMP3 with the #18 M-Racing - Yvan Muller Racing Ligier/Nissan. Sean Rayhall was a close second in the #10 Ligier, only 0.049 seconds behind. Completing the top 3 was LMP3 champion Alex Brundle in the #2 United Autosports.

In GTE Matt Griffin opened the debates, setting the fastest time in the first part of the session in his #55 AF Corse Ferrari. After the first interruption, another Ferrari got on top of the leaderboard when Marco Cioci outpaced Griffins time in the #51 AF Corse F458 Italia. At the end of the session though it was Wolf Henzler in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche who was fastest. Henzler drove a 1.40.165, 0.039 seconds faster than Talkanitsa Jr in the #56 AT Racing Ferrari. The #51 Ferrari completing the top 3, 0.080 seconds behind Talkanitsa.

The second free practice session is scheduled for Saturday morning at 8.00h local time. Weather permitting that is, as this morning the first sessions had to be postponed for a while due to heavy fog over the track. Weather forecasts for the remainder of the weekend are looking rather dull and wet.

Kristof Vermeulen.