Friday 21 July 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring: Friday practice report

Sunny skies and a few clouds this afternoon at the Red Bull Ring for the first practice session of the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring.  A quiet and uneventful session, with just a short full course yellow when an LMP3 got off track at the Schlossgold Kurve (Turn 3). 

Dragonspeed dominated this afternoons session with both cars on top of the timetable after 90 minutes.  Nicolas Lapierre was the quickest, going up and down the Austrian track in 1.20.558 in his #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 07. Fellow Frenchman Nicolas Minassian didn't miss his return behind the racing wheel, immediately going second fastest in todays session.  Minassian got around in 1.20.856, 0.277 seconds behind Lapierre, in the #22 G-Drive Racing Oreca. Three Frenchmen and the Oreca's on the top spots this afternoon, with Enzo Guibbert third fastest in his #39 Graff (1.21.219). 

Olivier Pla was the fastest Ligier driver today in his Gibson powered #28 IDEC Sport JSP217, only 0.030 seconds behind third place. Fastest in the Dallara's was the Cetilar Villorba Corse team with Andrea Belicchi behind the wheel. Tockwith Motorsports who are racing back to back weekends with the FIA WEC at the Nürburgring were 7th fastest today.  

The Norma M30 showed its speed again in the LMP3 class, the #10 Oregon team on top of the leaderboard again with Dario Capitano behind the wheel.  Capitone drove around the track in 1.26.376, 0.314 seconds faster than Wayne Boyd in the #3 United Autosport Ligier JSP3. Third fastest was Mikkel Jensen in the #9 AT Racing Ligier, a nice result in the first practice session of the teams homerace.  Championship leaders Ultimate didn't get higher than 8th place today in 1.27.806, almost 1.5 seconds behind the leading Norma.

Giorgio Roda didn't have his best afternoon of the season in the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari. He saw his best laptime cancelled due to not respecting track limits after a black and white flag and had to sit out a 10 (ten !!) minute stop & go penalty. That didn't stop Andrea Bertolini to put be third fastest in class, with a 1.29.815.  

Second fastest in the LMGTE class was Nicki Thiim in the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin (1.29.753), who came just 0.025 seconds short to beat Matteo Cairoli. The young Italian set the fastest time this afternoon in his #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, clocking a 1.29.728. 

The second 90 minute free practice session is scheduled for tomorrow morning, 9.25h local time.  Qualifying for the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring will kick off at 12.50h. 

Kristof Vermeulen.