The first qualifying of the year for the European Le Mans Series was run at Paul Ricard near Le Castellet in the south of France.
The GTE category was first on track. With laptimes just under two minutes, it would only give the drivers very few shots ate posting a competitive lap.
Ross Gun in Aston Martin Racing #98 was the first driver to post a fast lap. The drivers had to stay within the white lines as always, which Proton Competition Porsche #77, AF Corse Ferrari #51 and Kessel Racing Ferrari #74 had a few troubles doing, so they lost some of their times.
Proton Competition Porsche #77 did, however, manage to post the second-fastest lap in it’s second go, followed by the sister car #93.
Several of the teams pitted for new tires, to give it one more shot.
It looked like AMR #98 was going to take Pole, but it was grabbed at the very last minute by Nicola Cadei for Kessel Racing Ferrari #74 (joined by Michael Broniszewski and David Perel), ahead of AMR #98 with Ross Gunn (plus Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda), and with Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55 with Matt Griffin (plus Aaron Scott and Duncan Cameron) in third.
The all-female Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 had put Michelle Gatting behind the wheel, and she managed to do 7th fastest lap out of the 9 cars. She shares the car with Manuela Gostner and Rahel Frey in the race tomorro.w
Then the LMP3 cars got their 10 minutes.
There were issues for Nielsen Racing #7 on their out-lap. Colin Noble was parked on the circuit but managed to fire up the car once again, after a few seconds.
DKR Engineering #4 continued their rapid pace from the Michelin Le Mans Cup earlier in the day and posted the fastest lap of all on the first flying lap. He was followed by Malthe Jakobsen in the RLR MSport #15, before United Autosports #2 split the two cars.
#4 kept improving the times, but so did the rest of the teams.
BHK Motorsport #16 stopped on the start/finish straight, so it prevented the other cars in improving their times – until one minute before the chequered flag.
United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd (plus Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon) managed to grab Pole Position on the very last lap, ahead of DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr (plus Francois Kirmann and Wolfgang Triller), while RLR MSport #15 with Malthe Jakobsen (plus James Dayson and Ryan Harper-Ellam) took an impressive third, in his very first race weekend in an LMP3 car, less than 0,15 from Pole Position.
The 15 LMP2 cars were last to go.
Several cars broke the track limits rule, including United Autosports #32, Cool Racing #37 and Graff #39
United Autosports #22 was the first car to post a fast lap, but they were hunted down by the defending champions from IDEC Sport #28.
Albuquerque in #22 pitted for new tires, but was beaten by G-Drive Racing #26 while doing that.
The time was improved by #26 once again, while both United Autosports cars tried to chase the time with both cars.
G-Drive Racing #26 felt so sure about the time, so they pitted before the chequered flag came out – and that was to be a big mistake.
On the very final lap, Pole was grabbed by Filipe Albuquerque (and Phil Hanson) in the United Autosports #22 by almost 0,25 of a second ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 with Nyck de Vries (and Mikkel Jensen plus Roman Rusinov), while United Autosports #32 with Alex Brundle (and Job van Uitert plus Will Owen) was third.
Everything is pointing towards it being a fantastic race, in all three categories, so make sure that you tune in on YouTube from 10.40 CET tomorrow, with the race starting at 11.00.