The qualifying to the 2021 season’s last European Le Mans Series was run at Autodromo do Algarve near Portimao in Portugal.
The ten GTE cars were the first to do their 10-minute qualifying session, in nice 24-degree weather.
As always, there were drivers who abused the track limits and thus lost their lap times.
Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55, Proton Competition Porsche #77 and #93 all chose to pit after only two laps – without setting any time.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 was the fastest car after everyone had the chance to do a flying lap.
Several cars chose to pit after setting a time, putting on new tires.
The fresh tires worked for both TF Sport Aston Martin #95 and Proton Competition Porsche #77, who jumped up to first and second positions.
And that was how the session ended: TF Sport Aston Martin #95 with Ross Gunn (plus John Hartshorne and Oliver Hancock), ahead of Gianmaria Bruni (plus Cooper MacNeil and Christian Ried) in Proton Competition Porsche #77, while AF Corse Ferrari #88 with Alessio Rovera (plus Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard) finished in P3.
Afterwards, it was time for the LMP3 qualifying with seventeen cars – an extra car compared to the rest of the season with Sainteloc Racing as the new team.
Danish Malthe Jakobsen in RLR MSport #15 was the first driver, but certainly not the last, who got penalised for track limits, and hence he lost one of his lap times.
United Autosports #2 was the first team to set a fast time, with over half a second ahead of the rest of the field.
Jakobsen went up to P2 after completing his second lap – only to find out the time was deleted.
Both United Autosports cars chose to pit for new tires, while everyone else continued on the track.
Inter Europol Competition #13 was the next team setting the fastest time, ahead of DKR Engineering #4.
But the lead changed again after everyone had done their last flying lap.
United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd (plus Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe) took Pole Position, with 0,059 second ahead of Inter Europol Competition #13 with Ugo de Wilde (plus Martin Hippe and Adam Eteki), and with DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr (plus Mathieu De Barbuat) in P3, even though the latter got their fastest time deleted.
Overall, twenty-five lap times were deleted due to track limits – in the LMP3 category alone!
Last but not least, fourteen LMP2 cars went out to do their qualifying. But in reality, only thirteen cars were present since Racing Team Turkey #34 had a huge accident in free practice 2, so the TF Sport team couldn’t get the car ready in time for the qualifying.
Local team Algarve Pro Racing #24 was the first car to set the fastest time, ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 – who by the way was also run by APR this year.
Again, a lot of lap times got deleted due to track limits.
Afterwards, people began putting other tires on the cars, which caused a bit of break in the fast times.
G-Drive Racing #26 was the first to improve their time with new tires on – only for it to be beaten by their sister car #24 yet again.
They felt secure about the times and chose to pit both cars, without doing the last flying lap.
Charles Milesi (plus Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Coigny) in COOL Racing #37 used it to his advantage and snatched Pole Position, for the second race in a row, which was also the Pole for the Pro/Am category. Algarve Pro Racing #24 with Ferdinand Habsburg (plus Richard Bradley and Sophia Flörsch) set the second-best time, ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 with Nyck de Vries (plus Franco Colapinto and Roman Rusinov).
More than twenty lap times got deleted in the LMP2 class, so it wasn’t just the LMP3 drivers who had problems with the white lines.
Now the teams have just under twenty-four hours of preparation, before the race tomorrow on Sunday at 14.00 CET. It can be streamed on YouTube.