Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Tristan Gommendy made a statement this afternoon by setting the fastest lap of the day’s second European Le Mans Series practice session at Paul Ricard
The Frenchman pedaled his team’s #46 ORECA 05-Nissan to a 1:47.546s best in warm but windy conditions, surpassing Krohn Racing’s Olivier Pla by 0.375s.
Pla had stood as the fastest driver for much of the 90 minute session until Gommendy took control with around half an hour left.
Third quickest was the championship-leading #38 Jota Sport Gibson 015S Nissan which ended the session 0.725s off the pace, marginally ahead of the Eurasia Motorsport ORECA 03R that features recent Le Mans LMP2 winner Richard Bradley.
The top five was completed by Greaves Motorsport with its white and blue Gibson 015S Nissan, while the Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R was the only other car within a second of the benchmark. The Murphy car was reprimanded by the stewards for a pit-lane violation in the second half of the session, for which it was dealt a 10 second stop-go penalty.
Fresh from racing in the Paul Ricard V de V round last weekend, Ginetta’s Michael Simpson once again topped the LMP3 ranks. The 31 year old’s 1:56.679s fastest lap was nearly a second quicker than the points leading #3 machine, and a further six tenths ahead of the SVK by Speed Factory entry.
LMGTE continues to be a wide open affair, although it was Ferrari that once again proved itself to be the leading manufacturer. AT Racing were on top, followed closely by the #55 AF Corse entry that is just five points off the championship lead. Four tenths off the class pace was the Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR of Marco Mapelli, while Andy Priaulx gave BMW Team Marc VDS another encouraging run in fourth.
There was another runaway leader in the GTC ranks during second practice, but it wasn’t the TDS Racing BMW that had made its mark in the morning session. Instead it was the turn of the #63 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to stand out from the class pack, thanks to a 1:58.768s fastest lap from Ilya Melnikov. Nearly two seconds adrift was the #62 AF Corse entry of Stuart Hall, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr, while TDS Racing rounded out the top three.
Few incidents of note took place during the session, although a brief full course yellow was called early on to give marshals space to clear a bollard that had been knocked onto the racing line at Turn 5.
With free practice now in the books, attention turns to ELMS qualifying which takes place at 09:00 (CEST) tomorrow (September 6). LMGTE and GTC kick start proceedings with a 20 minute session, before the prototypes are unleashed at 09:30.