Saturday 14 April 2018

ELMS: First pole positions for IDEC Sport and M.Racing-YMR

IDEC Sport in LMP2 and M.Racing-YMR in LMP3 both scored their first ever pole positions in the European Le Mans Series this afternoon, after a highly entertaining qualifying session for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet tomorrow. 

A bit of a surprise in the LMP2 class, where Paul Loup Chatin scored pole for IDEC Sport in the #28 Gibson powered Oreca 07 in a smashing 1.41.194.  We all know Chatin is quick and the Oreca – even after the adjustments Ligier and Dallara were allowed to do to their cars – is still the car to beat, but the #28 hasn't been amongst the top runners in class all weekend.  That didn't stop Chatin from beating the rest of the field with exactly 0.444 seconds. 

The session was shortly red flagged when Bruno Senna stopped on the Mistral straight in his #22 United Autosports Ligier. When the session went green again, only six minutes were left for the drivers to fight for pole position.  Chatin set his time with only two minutes left on the clock, leaving the other teams almost no chance for improvement.  Matthieu Vaxivière once again was second quickest in the #33 TDS Racing Oreca, 0.266 seconds faster than Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 07. 

The first non-Oreca chassis was the #23 Panis Barthez Competition with Will Stevens behind the wheel, just over a second behind the leading Oreca. The #35 SMP Racing set the fastest time of the Dallara's in ninth place with a 1.42.507.

The LMP3 qualifying session was a nailbiting one, laptimes improving and positions changing right into the final moments. Ultimately it was a clean sweep for Norma, with three cars on the first three places for tomorrow's grid.   David Droux in the #19 M/Racing-YMR Norma took pole after a flying lap of 1.51.930. He outpaced Matthieu Lahaye in the #17 Ultimate Norma with just 0.061 seconds. 

Reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup champion Alexander Toril took third place, giving in 0.113 seconds to Lahaye.  Job Van Uitert in the #15 RLR Ligier has been fast all weekend and led the field early in the session, but lacked only 4 thousands of a second to qualify in the top 3.  Completing the top 5 was last year's champion Sean Rayhall in the #2 United Autosports Ligier, over half a second slower than Van Uitert. 

Matteo Cairoli starred again in the GTE class, taking pole in his #88 Proton Competition Porsche in a time of 1.53.777.  Ben Barker in the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche took second place for the grid tomorrow, 0.209 seconds behind Cairoli. Third place went to Miguel Molina in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari, almost a second slower than the quickest of the Porsches. 

The 4 Hours of Le Castellet will start tomorrow at 12h local time in France.  A live stream will be available on and the series' youtube channel.  Motorsport TV also has a live broadcast.

Kristof Vermeulen