Saturday 23 September 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps: Front row lockout for Dragonspeed/G-Drive Racing

Ben Hanley took the DragonSpeed ORECA 07 he shares with Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman to pole for tomorrow’s European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Spa setting a 2:02.457 lap early in the 12 minute session. Hanley’s efforts mark the team’s third pole position this season. 

“We had the pace in FP1 and FP2, we knew we had it, it was just about putting a lap in,” Hanley said. “Lap 1 was the lap because the tyre deg is quite high here. It’s an iconic track and in these car’s it’s great because the performance of the cars is so high.”

0.375s behind was Ryo Hirakawa in the sister #22 G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed making it a front-row lockout for the DragonSpeed teams. Returning to the team after missing the previous two rounds at the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet the Japanese racer locked in a 2:02.832 lap. Third spot went to Enzo Guibbert who set a 2:03.053 in his #39 GRAFF ORECA just under 300ths of a second ahead of Filipe Albuquerque in the fastest of the Ligiers, the #32 United Autosports machine. 

Britain’s Richard Bradley set a 2:03.427 to claim the fifth spot on the grid for the #40 GRAFF ORECA with Andrea Pizzitola claiming the last spot on the third row for the #25 Algarve Pro Racing. All four of the Dallara P217s struggled today with the best result going to SMP Racing who will start tomorrow’s race from ninth position, 1.867 seconds off the pole sitter’s pace.

In LMP3, AT Racing’s Mikkel Jensen took the honours after setting a 2:13.634 in the final moments of the session leapfrogging the Austrian team’s Ligier to the top by 0.711s. The two United Autosports Ligier JS-P3s came next with the #3 of Wayne Boyd pipping teammate Sean Rayhall in the #2 to second by 0.2s after the pair had traded places throughout the session. Third in class for Sunday’s race will be the #6 360 Racing Ligier (2:14.692) with Duqueine Engineering’s #7 car being the first of the Norma M30s in fifth after David Droux set a 2:15.005 lap.

In the GTE class, despite TF Sport’s Nicki Thiim setting the early pace it was Italian hotshot Matteo Cairoli who put his ageing Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR onto Pole Position for the first time this season when he set a 2:16.757 on the second of his 4 laps. 

Thiim’s best time was a 2:17.115 which was good enough for second and JMW returnee Will Stevens put the #66 Ferrari into third with a 2:17.684.  Matt Griffin naked everything from the green #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari but was still a second behind Cairoli’s Porsche and will start fourth with the #51 sister 488 fifth. Another disappointing session for the Beechdean Aston Martin means the team will start at the back of the grid tomorrow, a place the team is starting to know only too well, with the best lap for Ross Gunn’s (2:18.050) nearly 1.3s off the Pole time. 

Tomorrow’s four-hour race starts at 12:00 local time and will be streamed live on the series website:

John Stevens