Friday 13 April 2018

ELMS: Lapierre and Hedman quickest for Dragonspeed in today's practice sessions.

DragonSpeed opened their European Le Mans Series account today when Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre stormed to a 1:48.580 to claim the fastest lap in this morning’s first free practice session at Paul Ricard. After rain early in the session, Lapierre clocked in the time on the drying track midway through the session.  In this afternoon's collective bronze driver test session, Henrik Hedman did it all over again for Dragonspeed, putting Dragonspeed on top for the second time today. 

Nico Lapierre's time in the #21 Gibson powered Oreca 07 was two seconds clear of Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #33 TDS Racing Oreca in second and Tristan Gommendy in the 39 Graff Oreca 0.14 seconds further behind in third. The best non-ORECA chassis was the #22 United Autosports Ligier which ran three seconds off the pace finishing fifth overall behind LMP2 debutants Duqueine Engineering with their #29 ORECA. Andrea Belicchi was the fastest Dallara driver, finishing 11th fastest in the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse. 

Ultimate led the way in the LMP3 class with their Norma M30/Nissan. Matthieu Lahaye pushed the #17 car to a 2:01.612 putting the French team at the top of the table. Behind them was another Norma: the #10 Oregon Team M30 with Riccardo Ponzio setting a 2:02.367. Rounding out the top three was the first of the Ligier chassis with Giorgio Mondini taking the #11 EuroInternational car to a 2:02.927.  Lucas Légeret in the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma set the fourth fastest time.

In the GTE class, Italian young-gun Matteo Cairoli beasted the #88 Proton Porsche 911 RSR around the circuit to eventually set a time of 2:01.282, bettering that of Lahaye in the Ultimate LMP3 by 0.3 second! The Gulf Racing Porsche  – entered for this round only as an additional test prior to the season opening WEC race at Spa – was also faster than the Ultimate Norma after Ben Barker clocked in a 2:01.566. Marvin Dienst in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche set the third fastest time in the morning session. 

The session had a single red flag caused by the #14 Inter Europol Ligier of Luca Demarchi hitting the barriers at Turn 13 after being hit by the #3 United Ligier.  The #35 SMP Racing Dallara also has been towed back to pitlane after stopping on track with what appeared to be suspension damage, causing a brief full course yellow period. 

The first Bronze driver test of the season was held in the afternoon and saw Henrik Hedman putting the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca back on top.  Unusually for this week, the entire session was dry with the sun making occasional appearances through broken clouds.  The Swedish team-owner clocked in a 1:44.767 followed by François Perrodo in the #33 TDS Racing ORECA half a second behind. Rounding out the top three was Italian Roberto Lacorte in the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara P217. 

Kay Van Berlo took honours in the LMP3 class setting a 1:52.587 in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier JSP3. Almost a second behind the Dutchman was Alexey Chuklin in the #5 NEFIS by Speed Factory Ligier JSP3 while Martin Hippe rounded out the class top three in the #13 Inter Europol Competition car. 

Fastest of the GTE drivers was Gianluca Roda in the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR setting a respectable 1:56.991. He was followed by Duncan Cameron in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE in 1:57.110 and third was Frenchman Raymond Narac in the #80 Ebimotors 911 RSR. 

Around 10 minutes before the end of the session, Mike Wainwright in the one-off entered #86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR had an extended wait in the live side of the pitlane as he waited for the AF Corse mechanics to run down the pitlane and push back Tracy Krohn who had missed his pit by two boxes and ended up stopped at the Gulf Racing box! 

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Pictures: JellyBaby.Media