Saturday 23 September 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps: Hirschi (Graff) and Hirakawa (G-Drive) fastest in free practice

A delayed second practice session this morning due to the fog hanging over Spa-Francorchamps. That didn't stop Ryo Hirakawa from scoring the fastest lap in the second free practice session.  

Hirakawa, who returns to the ELMS after missing out the last 2 races due to his commitments in the Japanese Super GT championship, set a time of 2.03.058 which was 0.521 seconds faster than Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff Racing Oreca. Third fastest this morning was Filipe Albuquerque in the #32 United Autosports Ligier in 2.03.605. Enzo Guibbert in the #39 Graff Oreca and Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed. 

Wayne Boyd was quickest in LMP3, putting down a 2.15.781 in his #3 United Autosports Ligier. Jakub Smiechowski who took second place at Le Castellet last month was 1.492 seconds slower than Boyd in second place in his #13 Inter Europol Competion Ligier. Third fastest was Andres Mendez in the colourful #10 Oregon Team Norma in 2.17.327, just 0.054 seconds behind Mendez, despite having an off early in the session and losing oil later on.

In LMGTE it's championship leaders TF Sport who were fastest this morning, Nicki Thiim posting a 2.17.901. Will Stevens is starting to find his way again in the JMW Ferrari, setting the second fastest time, but already just over a second slower than Thiim (2.18.951).  Rounding out the top 3 this morning was Andrea Bertolini in the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

The first practice session yesterday afternoon was led by Jonathan Hirschi in the #39 Graff Oreca 07.  Hirschi didn't miss his debut with the French team and set a laptime of 2.04.796.  Second fastest was Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca, just 0.036 second behind the Swiss driver.  Hufo de Sadeleer in the #32 United Autoports Ligier was third fastest in  2:05.405, almost a second behind Hirschi.  

Rounding out the top 5 were Nathanaël Berthon in the #28 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier and Andrea Belicchi in the # 47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara. By the end of the session, James Allen in the second Graff set the fastest time,, but saw his time deleted due to a pitlane infringement (speeding).  The first practice session was red flagged in the final minutes when Paul Lafargue stopped on track at Les Combes in his #28 IDEC Sport Ligier. 

Mikkel Jensen in the #9 AT Racing Ligier JSP3 set the pace in the LMP3 class with a time of 2.15.004. Jesnen left both United Autosports car behind him; Wayne Boyd was second fastest in the #3 (2.15.335), Sean Rayhall in the #2 (2.15.485). The top 5 in class were all Ligiers with the #15 RLR Msport fifth fastest and the #6 360 Racing completing the top 5. Although Spa should be in favour of the Norma's with their high top speed on the long straights, the first Norma M30 in the classification was the #7 Duquiene Engineering of Antonin Borga in 2.16.635 which was 1.631 second off the pace of Mikkel Jensen. 

In LMGTE Matteo Cairoli was flying in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche, demolishing all other contenders with a 2.17.888.  No one came near the Italians time, Darren Turner was second fastest in the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin in 2.20.292, which is 2.4 seconds behind Cairoli. Third fastest was the championship leading #90 Aston of Nicki Thiim, who set a 2.21.096.

Free practice 1 results
Free practice 2 results

Kristof Vermeulen.