4H Red Bull Ring: JOTA Tops Sunny First Session


JOTA Sport’s Filipe Albuquerque set the fastest lap during free practice for the third round of the European Le Mans Series.

The Portuguese driver pedalled his team’s #38 Gibson 015s Nissan to a 1:23.538s lap in sunny conditions at the 2.7 mile Red Bull Ring.

Albuquerque jumped to the top of the timing sheets several times during the 90 minute session, exchanging liberties at the head of the field with Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Tristan Gommendy.

However, it was Gary Hirsch in the Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S that stole second place with a 1:24.014s effort late in the session.

Gommendy, driving the French squad’s ORECA 05 Nissan, held third place as the chequered flag fell, just four thousandths of a second behind Hirsch.

Nathanael Berthon was a further three tenths adrift in the Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R that finished second at Imola, while the #37 SMP Racing BR01 rounded out the top five thanks to a 1:24.688s from Mikhail Aleshin.

The session was interrupted at the hour mark following a heavy incident for the Villorba Corse Ginetta LMP3 entry. Italian driver Roberto Lacorte appeared to lose control on the approach to the tight Remus hairpin, striking the barriers and coming to a rest on driver’s right. Lacorte was later reported unharmed, although the car’s rear bodywork had sustained a significant amount of damage and the red flags had to be deployed as the barriers were repaired

The #51 Ferrari set the pace in LMGTE (Credit: Nick Dungan/Adrenal Media)

Meanwhile, the LMP3 pace was set by Sir Chris Hoy in the #3 Team LNT Ginetta Nissan, who ended the morning a tenth of a second ahead of Latvian SVK by Speed Factory driver Konstantin Calko.

A late fast lap from Mark Shulzhitskiy bumped the #2 Team LNT Ginetta up to third in the category, around a second quicker than the Villorba Corse machine.

Ferrari recorded a one-two placing with its 458 Italias in the LMGTE class, although it could have been a top five lockout had Richard Lietz not produced a 1:31.019s lap in the #88 Proton Competition Porsche.

Despite clearing some of the Ferraris, Lietz’ flying lap was not enough to usurp the hard-charging Raffaele Gianmaria (#51 AF Corse) who submitted a benchmark time of 1:30.033s early in the session. Alessandro Pier Guidi (#56 AT Racing) ended the morning two tenths behind his fellow Italian, and four tenths ahead of Porsche factory driver Lietz.

The GTC class order was also Ferrari top-heavy, although the eventual session best was recorded by Frenchman Franck Perera aboard the #59 TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3. Perera’s 1:32.236s lap at the halfway stage held out as the pace-setter, with Francisco Guedes (#64 AF Corse) missing out on the top spot by less than a tenth. The #62 and #63 Ferraris both concluded the morning half a second within Perera’s time, while the Massive Motorsport Aston Martin, driven by Casper Elgaard, completed the top five with a 1:33.554s effort.

Full results to follow.