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Pizzitola Scores Algarve Pro Pole For Zhuhai Opener



Richard Bradley in LMP3 for WinEurasia, Marco Cioci for Spirit of Race in GT

With typically dramatic timing the first significant rain of the week fell 15 minutes before the LMP session began, the teams effectively off into the unknown and the conditions later catching out a couple of the LMP3 runners.

At the front of the grid for some time it looked as if the quicker LMP3 cars might make a real impact on the overall order, the Ginettas particularly fast in the early running, three of them at various points of the session sitting in a second row slot.

Up front it soon became a straight duel between Andrea Pizzitola in the #25 Algarve Pro Ligier JS P2 Nissan and Ho Pin Tung in the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03-R Nissan, the Chinese driver holding the advantage until the second half of the session when the Frenchman put in a blistering effort (1:38.155) that saw the Ligier on top by all but a second.

After a red flag to allow recovery of the #7 ARC Bratislava Ginetta from the gravel at T7, and the PS Racing Adess at T8 it became a one lap sprint to the checkered flag with Ho Pin Tung closing the gap to a quarter of a second and later bemoaning a lost opportunity with the wrong map selected for the run.

By now the other two LMP2s had closed up too, Andrea Roda finishing the session third, Struan Moore 4th in the #24 Ligier and #8 Oreca respectively.

The LMP3 battle behind saw the Tockwith Ligier, in the hands of Nigel Moore in the mix early on only to be overhauled initially by the Gineta trio of Weiron Tan (#69 Alezo Ecotint), Charlie Robertson (#67 PRT Racing) and Mike Simpson (#4 ARC Bratislava).

The dream result for the Ginetta camp was blown out of the water though by Richard Bradley in the #99 WinEurasia Ligier JSP3, a 1:41.346 enough to fend off their attack and grab class pole.

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The weather, if anything, worsened for the GTs mid session.

By then, with the Team AAI #92 Mercedes opting out of the session the battle was joined at the top of the order between a sextet of cars, Christopher Haase was in the mix early on in the #66 TianShi Audi but faded as the weather worsened.

By then Olivier Beretta was effectively out of the running with a right rear puncture on the very first lap of the session on the #3 DH Racing Ferrari.

For much of the session the #2 Absolute Racing Audi was in contention, leading the opening minutes with CongFu Chen at the wheel. Also in contention for a while was Andrea Caldarelli in the #10 FFF racing Lamborghini.

Ultimately though it would be all about a trio of Ferraris, Matt Griffin in the #61 Clearwater 488, ALessandro Pier Guidi in the #37 Team BBT car and Marco Cioci in the #38 Spirit of Race machine.

All three took a turn at the top with the trio separated by less than a tenth as the battle hotted up.

Eventually though it was Cioci that took it, 1:42.152 enough to fend off the chasing pair by under two tenths of a second. He was, very typically, very pleased, so pleased indeed that after crossing the line to confirm pole he promptly ended up in the gravel at Turn One.

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It was a sheepishly grinning Marco that turned up late for the press conference, but in tricky conditions his, and Pier Guidi, and Griffin’s laps were a bit special.

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