The qualifying for the first round of this year’s European Le Mans Series was run at Paul Ricard in the south of France.
The GTE cars were the first out on the track for their 10 minutes of qualifying.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 was the first to post a time, while Proton Competition Porsche #77 lost their first timed lap due to Dennis Olsen abusing track limits.
But then Porsche really put it on full steam, with Proton Competition #88 being fastest of all ahead of Gulf Racing #86.
Ebimotors Porsche #80 had a bit too much steam on, so Ricardo Pera went into a spin in one of the fast corners.
It ended up being Matteo Cairoli keeping Pole Position in #88 ahead of #86, while JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 and Proton Competition #77 both sneaked ahead of Krohn Racing Ferrari #83 and Spirit of Race Ferrari #55. Ebimotors Porsche #80 and Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 closed out the GTE field.
Then it was time for the LMP3 qualifying.
The 18 cars were certain to fight until the very final second in the session.
United Autosports #3 was the first car to put down a fast lap.
That didn’t last long, when RLR MSport #15 grabbed the top spot ahead of DKR Engineering #8.
The fight wasnt over just yet, when Ultimate #17 also wanted to try being in the first spot.
But it all ended up with M.Racing – YMR #19, driven by David Droux, doing the fastest lap ahead of Ultimate #17 and DKR Engineering #8.
There was drama for United Autosports #22 with Bruno Senna behind the wheel. He came to a stop on the track, but got going again, after resetting all systems. He crawled slowly around the track, in a battle to make it back to the pit lane.
The others went on to start hunting their fast laps.
But that didn’t last long, since Race Control decided to throw out the red flag, since Senna stopped in the middle of the Mistral straight. Therefore it was needed to get the car towed a a place of safety, rather than having cars blowing past him at 300 kph. He eventually made it back to the pits by himself.
There was only two cars who managed to set any times, so with just 5 minutes and 58 seconds left of the session, there would be plenty of fighting on the track.
And there was indeed a long line of cars at the pit exit. Even though the track is almost 6 kilometers long, then 19 cars takes up quite a bit of space, especially if you want a lap without any hindrances. But within one minute of the green flag, all cars were back on the track, including Senna.
IDEC Sport #28 with Paul Loup Chatin ended up setting Pole Position, while TDS Racing #33 and DragonSpeed #22 followed up.
IDEC Sport #27 had a spin going out of the final turn, so Graff #39 had to avoid them at the very last season. Fortunately the cars didn’t collide, all was well.
As a small side note, we have the LMP3 and GTE cars so close to each other, that only 10 of the LMP3 cars were faster than GTE. So that can give quite a few troubles in the race tomorrow, especially when it comes to a mix of fast pro-drivers and some not-so-fast gentlemen drivers.