Saturday 13 April 2019

ELMS: Norman Nato and G-Drive on pole for the first race of the season

Defending Champions G-Drive Racing will start in pole position for tomorrows 4 Horus of Le Castellet after a thrilling end of the 15 minute qualifying session.  Last year's race winner Norman Nato put the #26 G-Drive Aurus 01 on pole just ahead of Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport. 

With another lap record for the LMP2 class, the third one this week and the second one today, the Frenchman secured pole position in 1.40.052, just 25 thousands of a second faster than Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca.  What better way to start the season with a pole position in the first race for the re-badged Aurus 01 ?  A top result too for Nato who replaces Jean-Eric Vergne who is racing in Formula E this weekend. 

Paul Loup Chatin secured the second spot on the front row of the grid, ahead of Alex Brundle who had a very strong outing in the #32 United Autosports Ligier, splitting up the top 4 Oreca’s.  His best laptime of 1.40.293 was 0.241 second off Nato’s pole time, but a big improvement from the times the Ligiers set earlier this week(end). Rounding out the top 5 were Nico Lapierre in the #37 Cool Racing Oreca and Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed. 

In LMP3, Oregon Team secured their first ever pole position in the championship thanks to Damiani Fioravanti who has been quick all week here at Paul Ricard.  After a session which saw several drivers on top of the timetable, the Italian took pole position in his final lap with a 1.49.686.  Matthieu Lahaye had been on provisional pole until the dying moments of the session in the #17 Ultimate Norma, but eventually lost out 0.128 seconds to Fioravanti.

In an ultimate effort at the end of the session, Lucas Légeret got up to third position in the #19 M.Racing Norma, despite being briefly held up a bit by another car. 

(Dempsey) Proton Competition seemed to be on its way to lock out the front row with Thomas Preining in the #88 ahead of Matteo Cairoli in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR.  However, when Alessandro Pier Guidi dived 0.030 seconds under Preining’s  time in the final minute of the session it seemed like the experienced Italian would snatch the pole away from Porsche and hand it to Luzich Racing in their first race in the series.  

Matteo Cairoli did save the best for last though.  In his final lap, he went pushed his Porsche round the track in 1.52.499, shaving off an extra 0.273 seconds off Pier Guidi’s provisional pole time and giving Proton Competition its first pole of the season. 

The 4 Hours of Le Castellet will start at 12h30 tomorrow, and will be broadcasted live on the ELMS website and social media feeds.  

Kristof Vermeulen.