It was a dramatic day for European Le Mans Series at Silverstone in Great Britain.
Actually, the first free practice affected the rest of the day, not just for ELMS, but also FIA World Endurance Championship.
It wasn’t more than a thirty-minute session in FP1, before Carlin #45 with Jack Manchester had a serious incident in the Stowe corner, at the end of Hangar Straight. The cars come around with about 275 kph, where a defect on the car caused it to continue forward, only slowed down a little. Manchester hit the tire wall so hard and damaged the car so much that the monocoque was broken, and the team had to go to the FIA WEC paddock, where Cetilar Racing had an extra Dallara, which Carlin then built up for Saturday’s qualifying and race.
Manchester was taken to the hospital, where the doctors then stated he had two broken ribs, but there are still more tests to do. So it’s already obvious that he won’t drive tomorrow. The team plans to participate after all, but it means that they have to find a silver-ranked driver, since Ben Barnicoat is gold-rated, and Harry Tincknell is a platinum driver – there is a requirement to have at least one silver-ranked driver. Racing24-7.net wish Jack Manchester a speedy recovery, and hope to see him back behind the wheel again soon.
The tire barrier, as well as the Tec-Pro barrier were so damaged that several metres had to be replaced, which caused the rest of FP1 to get cancelled, and the following FIA WEC free practice was twenty minutes late.
Furthermore, ELMS’s FP2 was extended by thirty minutes, so that the drivers could have more driving time prior to the qualifying and race tomorrow. On the other hand, the second free practice for FIA WEC was half an hour late.
United Autosports #22 was the fastest with Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson, in both FP1 and FP2. Car #22 will be an ORECA 07, just as the one they use in the FIA WEC, while UA continues with a Ligier for #32 so far. DragonSpeed #21 with Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman og James Allen was the second fastest in both practices, while G-Drive Racing #26 with Job van Uitert, Jean-Eric Vergne and Roman Rusinov was third fastest both times. Even though G-Drive Racing #26 only drove 2/3 of FP2, since the car stalled on the track and had to be towed back to the pits.
Things were a bit more varied in LMP2. Ultimate #17 with Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Francois Heriau was quickest in FP1, ahead of 360 Racing #6 with Terrance Woodward, James Dayson and Ross Kaiser, and with M-Racing #19 with Laurent Millara, Lucas Légeret and Yann Ehrlacher in third.
In FP2 it was Eurointernational #11 with Mikkel Jensen and Jens Petersen was the fastest car, followed by M-Racing #19 and 360 Racing #6 respectively.
Amongst the GTE teams, Kessel Racing Ferrari #60 with Sergio Pianezzola, Giacomo Piccini and Nicola Cadei was fastest in FP1, in front of Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matteo Cairoli, while the sister car from Proton Competition Porsche #88 with Thomas Preining, Gian Luca Giraudi and Ricardo Sanchez was in P3.
In FP2 it was #88 ahead of #77, while Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 with Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Andrew Scott was third fastest.
From the Danish point of view, High Class Racing #20 with Dennis Andersen and Anders Fjordbach was P14 og P12 respectively, and unfortunately on the back side of the field. But we’ve seen them progressing in the race, when the car allows it.
We have mentioned Mikkel Jensen in Eurointernational #11 in FP2 – but in FP1 and the first part of FP2, the team had technical problems with the car, which kept them from doing as many laps as they had planned. But with the team’s experience from previous seasons, as well as a fast driver in Jensen, it’s proven in FP2 that you shouldn’t count them out.
RLR Msport #15 with Martin Vedel Mortensen, Christian Stubbe Olsen and Martin Rich was P10 in FP1, with a laptime set by Olsen, while he was ninth fastest in FP2. It was the first time for Vedel to be on the track. He hadn’t driven the car much, since it was raining cats and dogs in the test day earlier in the month, and in FP1 he only drove half a lap before it got red flagged. He managed to drive 27 laps in FP2 and got closer to Olsen’s laptimes with every lap.
In GTE, Michelle Gatting in Kessel Racing Ferrari #83 was the second fastest Ferrari driver – only beaten by nearly-factory-driver Matt Griffin. So she really showed how fast she is. It’s exciting to see how she does in tomorrow’s qualifying, where she likely will be the one qualifying the car, with a laptime like this. In FP1, they were P6, while Gatting set the time in FP2 and drove up to P4.
Nicklas Nielsen and his two teammates Alessandro Pier Guidi and Fabien Lavergne were fifth and sixth respectively in both free practices, but they had gotten a 35 kg weight in the car for leading the championship, winning the last race, as well as finishing second at Monza. So the objective of slowing them down seems to work.
Tomorrow it will be time for the qualifying and four-hour race in European Le Mans Series. It will be an exciting day. Will the tradition of having at least one Dane on the podium this season continue?