Saturday 15 April 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of Silverstone: Dragonspeed on pole

Ben Hanley & Dragonspeed took pole position today at Silverstone for the first race of the 2017 European Le Mans Series. The first qualifying session for the new season was full of suspence with a 5 minute shootout after a red flag in LMP2, and two new teams taking the top spot in LMP3 and GTE. 

After a frantic final 5 minutes of the session, Ben Hanley was the fastest man around Silverstone, putting the #21 Dragonespeed Oreca on pole with a time of 1.44.040. Filipe Albuquerque came in second fastest, 0.274 seconds behind Hanley. Enzo Guibbert in the Graff Oreca (1.45.163) starts on the second row of the grid in third place. Ryo Hirakawa still managed to qualify fourth after his spin early in the session, ahead of Pizzitola. The top six consists of three Oreca's and three Ligiers. Anders Fjordbach was the fastest Dallara driver again, taking seventh place on the grid.

Andrea Pizzitola had a blistering start in the session with his #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier, immediately putting a 1.45.235 on the clock. Ryo Hirakawa had a spin in his #22 G-Drive Oreca early in the session, without much harm.  Seconds later, when Richard Bradley parked his #40 Graff Ligier in the gravel, the session was red flagged to recover his LMP2. 

Cetilar Villorba Corse faced some electrical gremlins in their Dallara P217 on the worst thinkable moment, not being able to set a competitive laptime in the session. 

AT Racing didn't miss their debut in the LMP3 class. The Austrian team - which raced in GTE in the past seasons - took pole position with Mikkel Jensen behind the wheel of the #9 Ligier JSP3. With a time of 1:53.665, the Dane was 0.121 seconds faster than Sean Rayhall in the #2 United Autosports Ligier. The second UA Ligier was third fastest, Wayne Boyd finishing 0.395 seconds behind the sister car. 

Another first in the GTE class, with TF Sport claiming pole position for their first race in the European Le Mans Series. Nicki Thiim set a 1.58.269 immediately on his first lap, what proved to be enough to get the Aston Martin Vantage V8 on pole position for the race tomorrow. Second fastest was the Beechdean Aston, driven by Ross Gunn, just under 0.2 seconds behind Thiim. Third fastest was Matt Griffin in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE.

The race is set to start Saturday afternoon at 14.30h local time.

Qualifying results

Kristof Vermeulen