It was another intense battle in the European Le Mans Series qualifying, as always. This year’s final was run at Portimao in Portugal.
The three qualifyings were run under beautiful blue sky, which was in stark contrast to the Friday, where there was heavy rain in the afternoon.
The GTE cars were the first to have their 10 minutes on the track.
JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 was the first to post a quick time, ahead of Spirit of Race Ferrari #55, Proton Competition Porsche #77, Ebimotors #80 and Krohn Racing Ferrari #83. Proton Competition Porsche #88 didn’t post an initial time, before Matteo Cairoli dived into the pits after a new set of tires.
He beat all the opposition by 0,3 of a second on his first flyer – but got the time disallowed due to track limits in the final corner. That gave him just a single lap left to set a time.
JMW Motorsport #66 with Miguel Molina took Pole Position on the very final lap, ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #77 and #88, Spirit of Race Ferrari #55, Ebimotors Porsche #80 and Krohn Racing Ferrari #83. The first 4 cars were all within 0,5 of a second, so it appears to be a good race tomorrow.
The 18 LMP3 cars were next up.
Ultimate #17 was the first to set a time, for everybody else to beat. M.Racing – YMR #19 managed to do so, so it was a Norma 1-2 at the point. Mikkel Jensen in AT Racing #9 just managed to post third fastest lap, before there was a Red Flag due to Giorgio Mondini putting the Eurointernational #11 into the gravel in Turn 5.
That left all the cars with just 3 minutes left on the clock, to do one final flying lap.
United Autosports #2 managed to jump up to fifth position, but otherwise there were no change in top 5.
So it was Lucas Legeret in M.Racing – YMR #19 on Pole ahead of Ultimate #17 and AT Racing #9, at the best Ligier chassis, while DKR Engineering #8 (Norma) grabbed fourth.
15 LMP2 cars were the last to qualify.
Nicolas Lapierre in the DragonSpeed #21 had a quick spin on his first flying lap, so he would have to give it another shot.
Panis Barthez Competition #23 was the first to jump to the top of the timing screens, followed by IDEC Sport #28 and Cetilar Villorba Corsa #47.
Lapierre in DragonSpeed #21 got the car under control again, and went into first position, with four minutes to go of the ten minutes qualifying. The lap, however, was deleted due to track limits, so he had to give it a third go.
Several of the teams went for new tires, to give a one more try.
With 90 seconds to go, we had local hero Filipe Albuerquerque in United Autosports #22 jumping into first position.
Panis Barthez Competition #23 were the first to beat that time, before Nicolas Jamin in the Duqueine Engineering #29 took Pole Position ahead of #23 and #22.
The race will start at 13.30 CET, and will be live streamed on www.Europeanlemansseries.com/en/live.