Paul Ricard FP1: AF Racing Sets the Pace

AF Racing’s Mikhail Aleshin topped the timing sheets at the end of free practice one for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet.

Aleshin set a 1:47.986s best in the middle portion of the 90 minute session, driving his team’s #21 BR01-Nissan coupe.

The Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R-Nissan ended the session as the second quickest entry, with Michael Lyons 0.255s off the pace.

In third was the Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S-Nissan of Jon Lancaster which finished 0.899s in arrears of the leader, while Krohn Racing made it four different chassis manufacturers in the top four times as the guesting Olivier Pla recorded a 1:49.161s late in the session.

The second of the AF Racing BR01s completed the top five, while Thiriet by TDS Racing finished sixth overall.

The LMP3 pace was dictated by the two Team LNT Ginetta-Nissans, with the #2 entry of Gaetan Paletou and Michael Simpson leading the order on a 1:55.545s best. The Chris Hoy/Charlie Robertson #3 machine was seven tenths off the pace, while the triple-manned SVK by Speed Factory entry followed up in a distant third.

It was a mixed bag in LMGTE with three different marques occupying the top four positions. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Matteo Cressoni, Peter Mann and Andrea Bertolini topped the group with a 1:57.167s best, 0.2s ahead of the AT Racing Ferrari driven by Alex Talkanitsa Sr, Jr, and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

BMW had a presence in the top three in the form of Marc VDS Racing’s Z4 GTE (Jesse Krohn’s late 1:57.298s lap bumped it up the order), while Porsche also featured at the sharp end of the class standings with the Proton Competition 911 RSR finishing fourth.

GTC appeared to a done deal as the session wound to a close, but an impressive 1:58.002s lap from TDS Racing’s Franck Perera shot the French team to the top of the pile.

The BMW driver was quicker than three of the LMGTE runners and led his class by 1.8s from the all-Danish Massive Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in second.

Second practice for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet will get underway later today (September 5) at 15:00 local (CEST). View The Checkered Flag’s feature length preview for the race here.

Full FP1 results to follow.