Saturday 22 July 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring: Leo Roussel & G-Drive on pole position

Despite weather forecasts which looked pretty wet for the weekend, the Red Bull Ring was bathing in the sun again today, with the occasional cloud brining some welcome moments of shadow over and around the track. Ideal conditions for the second free practice session this morning and qualifying in the afternoon. 

After a frantic qualifying session, Leo Roussel scored his first ever pole position in the European Le Mans Series. With a laptime of 1.18.435 he was merely faster than the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca. Lapierre did everything he could to snatch pole away from Roussel but came just 5 thousands of a second short. In fact one of Lapierre's laps was 0.005 seconds faster than Roussel, but several of his laps were deleted due to track limit abuse.  Filipe Albuquerque was third fastest in the #32 United Autosports Ligier, just under 0.4 seconds behind the leading Oreca, despite a spin at the exit of turn 2. Nathanael Berthon qualified fourth in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier, ahead of the fastest Dallara of Egor Orudhzev in the #27 SMP Racing.

LMP3 saw a fierce battle again in qualifying, the session red flagged after a few minutes when Ross Kaiser's 360 Racing Ligier lost a wheel and had to be retrieved. Eventually it was David Droux who took pole position in the #7 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30 (1.25.756). This is only the second race for the team with the Norma, and the first in ELMS (they raced in VdeV last week), they couldn't dream of a better start with a new car.  Mikkel Jensen confirmed his good form in the #9 AT Racing Ligier, taking second place 0.197 seconds behind Droux. The Norma's showed some outright speed again, with the #19 M. Racing-YMR on third place on the grid.

Bertolini went on like he did this morning in the second free practice session and was fastest in the GTE class this afternoon. Bertolini topped the sheets in 1.28.297, which was 0.179 seconds ahead of the second Spirit of Race Ferrari F488, the #55 of Matt Griffin. Third fastest in GTE was Matteo Cairoli in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche in 1.28.606. The #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari was fourth fastest, ahead of both Aston Martins.

The second 90 minute free practice session started this morning at 9.25h. The session was briefly red flagged early on when the #2 United Autosport Ligier LMP3 went off, damaging the front of the car.  There were several other incidents within the LMP3 class. The #15 RLR MSport went straight into the kitty litter at turn 3, other cars spotted off track were the #9 AT Racing, #10 Norma and the #18 YMR-M.Racing Ligier.

Nicolas Lapierre was outright fastest again in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 07, with a lap of 1.19.082, almost 1,5 seconds faster than yesterday afternoon. The #22 sister car in G-Drive colors was second quickest again, now with Leo Roussel behind the wheel, putting a 1.19.492 on the scoreboard. Filipe Albuquerque was the fastest man in a Ligier, coming in third fastest, but already 0.729 seconds behind Lapierre. The #49 High Class Racing was the fastest Dallara this morning, with Anders Fjordbach behind the wheel. 

Home team AT Racing got at the top of the timetable in LMP3 this morning, Mikkel Jensen setting a 1.26.507 in the #9 Ligier JSP3. Simon Gachet in the #16 Panis-Barthez Competition was second fastest, 0.132 seconds slower. Dario Capitano who was quickest yesterday now had to settle for third, just (0.024 seconds) behind Gachet.  

Andrea Bertolini was quickest of the GTE contenders, putting in a 1.28.407, improving his time from yesterday with 1,4 seconds. Yesterday's fastest man Matteo Cairoli in the #77 Proton Porsche was second this morning in 1.28.721. Darren Turner was a very close third in the #99 Beechdean Aston, only 0.093 seconds behind Cairoli.

Unlike in LMP2 and GTE, the top times didn't improve in the LMP3 class this morning. Several cars lost some of their laptimes due to crossing the white line at the exit of the pitlane during the session.

The green flag for the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring will be waived at 13.00h tomorrow. Will the rain stay away again, or are we in for a real wet race ?  As always, there is live streaming of the whole race on the series website:

Kristof Vermeulen.