4H Estoril: Thiriet by TDS leads Friday practice at Estoril

by Daniel Lloyd

Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Mathias Beche set the fastest lap during opening practice for the Estoril round of the European Le Mans Series.

The Swiss driver posted a 1:31.637s time aboard the #46 ORECA 05-Nissan to lead the 90 minute Friday afternoon session.

Beche will share the car with team-mates Ryo Hirakawa and Pierre Thiriet during Sunday afternoon’s four hour race.

The Thiriet by TDS squad can secure the European championship this weekend with a fourth place finish, although Hirakawa won’t be in contention for the drivers’ title because he missed the 4 Hours of Le Castellet in September.

Second quickest in free practice was the Krohn Racing Ligier JSP2 driven by Olivier Pla.

The Frenchman turned in a 1:32.305s marker, placing him 0.668 seconds adrift of Beche.

In third was the Greaves Motorsport-entered Ligier JSP2, which in the hands of Nathanael Berthon clocked in at 1:32.395s.

Fourth was Nicolas Lapierre in the 4 Hours of Spa-winning DragonsSpeed ORECA 05, just over a second off the pace.

Completing the top five was Vitaly Petrov in the Russian SMP Racing BR01-Nissan.

In LMP3, Yann Ehrlacher set the fastest time for Yvan Muller’s eponymous YMR Racing outfit.

The 20 year old Frenchman – who is nephew to the four time World Touring Car champion – turned in a 1:36.919s effort to top the class order.

He will share the blue and white Ligier JSP3 with Alexandre Cougnaud and Thomas Laurent during Sunday’s race.

Narrowly missing out on the purple-banded time was Sean Rayhall in the Graff Ligier JSP3, who fell just 0.049 seconds short of Ehrlacher.

Third in LMP3 was Alex Brundle, driving the European championship-winning Ligier entered by United Autosports. Brundle set a time of 1:37.517s, which put him half a second off the pace and three tenths of a second ahead of the fifth placed Panis Barthez car driven by Simon Gachet.

LMGTE saw Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler take Friday’s fastest lap honours with a time of 1:40.165s, as six of the eight cars fell to within a second of his benchmark.

Driving the Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, Henzler edged ahead of Alessandro Pier Guidi in the AT Racing Ferrari 458 by 0.039 seconds.

Falling under a blanket of 0.2 seconds were the AF Corse Ferrari 458 driven by Marco Cioci (1:40.284s) and the Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage of Alex MacDowall (1:40.311s).

A second 90 minute free practice session (08:00) followed by three separate 10 minute qualifying runs (12:45) make up tomorrow’s card, with the 4 Hours of Estoril itself bookmarked for 13:30 on Sunday afternoon – all times local/UK. 


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