Paniz Barthez Competition, the team run by former Formula One driver Olivier Panis and ex-Manchester United Goalkeeper Fabian Barthez, scored a pair of pole positions as the Red Bull Ring played host to the third round of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
The initial pacesetter in the primary class in the ELMS was Nicolas Lapierre in the Dragonspeed Oreca 05-Nissan but he was quickly out-gunned by both Harry Tincknell in the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan and Mathias Beche in the Thiriet By TDS Racing Oreca 05-Nissan.
Beche held pole for a time with a 1:20.773, but Paul Loup Chatin in the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JSP2 was not going to settle for anything less than pole position and a storming lap saw him leap to the front-row by 0.053 seconds.
A sign of how much quicker the class has gone this year can be seen in the fact that this year’s pole time is 2.2s faster than last year, but at the same time the top five was only covered by 0.26s.
The secondary class in the ELMS, the super-size LMP3 grid saw equally epic battles for pole position with Panis Barthez Competition again finishing on the front row in class with their Ligier JSP3.
However, unlike LMP2, the team’s P3 challenger moved to the head of the class early doors but there was still time before they set pole to squeeze in a red flag stoppage because of the Race Performance Ligier stopping in a dangerous position out at turn four. That stoppage didn’t put Simon Gachet off his game, who had composed himself in the break before going out and banging in a 1:26.126 – after much competition from Wayne Boyd in the #3 United Autosports Ligier, which would eventually finish 0.157 behind.
This weekend, thanks to the skill of Onroak in developing a world-beating LMP3 machine, every entry in the 19-strong category are Ligier JSP3s.
Matteo Cairoli claimed the final pole position on offer in the Proton Competition Porsche 991 RSR as he engaged in a session-long skirmish with the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini which saw both drivers trade fastest laps. In the end, the Porsche would claim the honours by a single tenth.
Behind the front-row, it was very much a Ferrari show as AT Racing claimed third place with the two AF Corse entries lining up behind with Marco Cioci edging out Matt Griffin.