The European Le Mans Series went to the south of France for the third qualifying of the 2021 season, at Paul Ricard track.
The GTE category was the first to get their ten-minute qualifying session, consisting of nine cars who would fight for the first starting position as well as a bonus point for the fastest car.
Thus, all the teams chose to put their strongest driver in the car.
Proton Competition Porsche #77 was the first car to set a fast time, soon followed by TF Sport Aston Martin #95.
Bruni in #77 was on his way to set an even faster time, but he chose to pit for new tires instead. On the way there, he hit one of the turn markers in such an effective way that would impress an NFL player. His teammate Richard Lietz in the sister car #93 snatched P1 after deciding to continue on the same set of tires. Only Lietz and Jody Fannin in JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 chose to stay on the track and only did one attempt.
Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55 didn’t have a chance to improve their time as they went over the track limits, just after getting new tires and starting the flying lap.
On the other hand, TF Sport Aston Martin #95 with Ross Gunn (plus John Hartshorne and Ollie Hancock) did it perfectly and got Pole Position, ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #93 with Richard Lietz (plus Michael Fassbender and Jaxon Evans), as well as Proton Competition Porsche #77 with Gianmaria Bruni (plus Christian Ried and Cooper MacNeil) in third place.
Afterwards, it was time for the sixteen LMP3 cars to do their session.
Nielsen Racing #6 got taken for Track Limits as Max Koebolt not just a bit over the track but waaaay off.
DKR Engineering #4 was the first car to set a fast lap time. It was soon followed by Team Virage #20, and Inter Europol Competition #13.
While the competitors tried to catch up, Laurents Hörr in #4 kept extending the gap. Graff #8 wanted to be on top as well, while United Autosports #2 jumped up to the second place.
Both Inter Europol Competition cars lost their time due to Track Limits abuse.
The qualifying was over for Nielsen Racing #7 when Colin Noble hit a row of floppies. It ripped a big part of the car front, which didn’t help the aerodynamics at all.
Team Virage #20 went up to second place on the very last lap.
But no one could catch DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr (plus Jean-Philippe Dayraut), who took Pole Position, ahead of Team Virage #20 with Garett Grist (plus Charles Crews and Rob Hodes), while Graff #8 with David Droux (as well as Sebastian Page and Eric Trouillet) qualified third.
Last but not least, the fifteen LMP2 cars went to the track for their qualifying, as well as Association SRT41 #84. What’s special about #84 is that it has two handicapped drivers in the car, which uses a hand-control.
United Autosports #32 didn’t just go off the track – they went even further than the ideal line than what we saw in the LMP3 qualifying.
Meanwhile, their teammates in United Autosports #22 set the fastest time, while Panis Racing #65 was second fastest.
There was a red flag halfway through the qualifying when Cool Racing #37 went still in the middle of the track. Luckily, Nicolas Lapierre managed to restart the car just before the race director chose to stop the session,
Only half of the field had set a time, so they were so busy setting a time when the session got a green flag again.
G-Drive Racing #26 woke up and set the fastest time, before the championship leader Team WRT #41 knocked them off the top spot with an even better time.
Cool Racing #37 was fast enough after their restart and went up to the third place.
G-Drive Racing #26 with Nyck de Vries (plus Roman Rusinov and Franco Colapinto), however, took Pole Position on the final lap, ahead of Team WRT #41 with Louis Deletraz (plus Robert Kubica and Yifei Yi), while United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson (as well as Jonathan Aberdein and Tom Gamble) squeezed themselves in front of Cool Racing #37 in the very last second.
But it wasn’t certain that #37 would keep P4 since they were under investigation for breaching the rules under the red flag.
Four hours of Paul Ricard will be run tomorrow Sunday at eleven o’clock, while Live Stream will start already at 10.40 on this link.