European Le Mans Series

4H Estoril: Lapierre snatches pole for DragonSpeed

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DragonSpeed driver Nicolas Lapierre took pole position for the Estoril round of the European Le Mans Series in a close qualifying session.

The Frenchman saved his best until last, posting a 1:44.146s time to eclipse erstwhile pole-sitter Paul Loup Chatin by 0.407 seconds.

Lapierre will share the American-entered ORECA 05-Nissan with Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley during tomorrow’s four hour race (October 23).

Chatin had led much of the 10 minute session in the Panis-Barthez Ligier JSP2, with the Michelin tyres working well in the drying conditions.

However, a late bid for pole by the Dunlop-shod Lapierre – who takes DragonSpeed’s count up to three this season – displaced his compatriot at the top of the timesheets.

4 Hours of Estoril qualifying result

Third on the grid for Sunday’s race will be the Gibson 015S entered by Jota Sport and G-Drive Racing.

Giedo van der Garde gambled his tyre strategy by heading out on intermediates from the start, but came to the fore late in the session when a dry line emerged.

The Dutchman turned in a 1:44.758s effort on his final tour, which elevated him onto the second row of the grid.

One of the cars displaced by Van der Garde was the Krohn Racing Ligier JSP2-Nissan driven by Olivier Pla, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday.

The Frenchman briefly set the fastest lap early in the session, but fell to fourth when his rivals came to the fore.

Fifth in qualifying went to Vitaly Petrov, driving the SMP Racing-entered BR01-Nissan. The Russian team had to make repairs to the car’s front nose during the morning after an incident in dawn practice, but the ex-Formula One driver was able to bring it into the top five with a 1:45.857s time.

In sixth was the IDEC Sport Racing Ligier JSP2-Judd of Dmitri Enjalbert, while the championship-leading Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05-Nissan of Mathias Beche struggled for pace and ended up down in seventh.

Surprisingly, this was the #2 car’s first LMP3 pole of the year (Credit: Adrenal Media)

In LMP3, United Autosports drivers Alex Brundle and Wayne Boyd secured a front row lockout for the Anglo-American team.

Brundle – who banked an early 1:50.355s marker – was unchallenged on his route to the #2 championship-winning car’s first pole position of the season.

Boyd followed suit with a 1:50.541s time to go second quickest, putting both United cars over half a second ahead of the two Duqueiene Engineering Ligiers which start tomorrow’s race from the second row.

Completing the top five in LMP3 was the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier driven by Simon Gachet, who registered a best lap of 1:51.318s.

LMGTE qualifying saw Ben Barker fend off a challenge from Alessandro Pier Guidi to give Proton Competition its second pole of the season.

Barker managed the wet conditions to perfection in the #88 Porsche 911, turning in the only sub 1 minute 55s lap of the session.

Pier Guidi held provisional pole with a 1:55.091s time aboard the AT Racing Ferrari 458, but when Barker eclipsed that with a 1:54.754s the Italian jumped into the pits to change tyres.

But despite the switch, Pier Guidi couldn’t catch Proton’s stand-in who gave the German outfit an extra point towards its bid for third in the LMGTE championship.

Row two of the grid will feature both AF Corse Ferrari 458s, with both ending up just over a second off Barker’s pace.

Completing the class top five was the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 of Andrea Bertolini, which only needs to finish to secure the 2016 title.

The 4 Hours of Estoril gets underway tomorrow at 13:30 local/UK time.

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