Andrea Pizzitola made it two Pole positions in two Asian Le Mans Series races for the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier Nissan squad with a lap around Fuji Speedway in 1:32.646 that was good enough to fend off the close attentions of the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Gustavo Menezes.
The American 2016 FIA WEC LMP2 Champion had led the session with a 1:32.916 before the Frenchman plucked out a perfect final sector to convert a lap which saw minor traffic delays in the early part of the lap to a polesetting performance.
Struan Moore in the #8 Race Performance Oreca Judd closed the gap to the leading pair in the final minutes of the session, the top four separated by under half a second.
In LMP3 there was a fine battle between the Ligier and Ginetta runners that went down to the wire.
Nigel Moore had seemingly taken control of the session in the #26 Tockwith Ligier before Charlie Robertson leapfrogged his earlier time, a 1:36.115 in the PRT Racing Ginetta putting the Yorkshire built car ahead of the Yorkshireman in the Ligier.
Moore though wasn’t done and managed to edge back ahead, despite a polesetting 1:36.054 that “should easily have been well into the 1:35s but I was held up twice by the #24 Algarve Pro Ligier.”
There’s a bit of healthy needle between ex Ginetta driver Moore and the current crop of LNT men – Pole position clearly delighting the #26 crew, the Ginetta boys frustrated that a pole position they knew would be a tough ask went begging by such a tight margin.
The #1 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier of James Winslow came in third in the class order ahead of Konstantins Calko’s best effort in the #7 ARC Bratislava Ginetta.
In the GT session the timing screens flattered to deceive as the #91 Team AAI – in the mix all weekend so far, suffered a transponder failure so proved difficult to track progress for.
In the end it didn’t matter as the BMW was not the fastest, Philipp Eng finishing the session fourth fastest, just ahead of Tom Blomqvist in the sister #90 car.
With the Lamborghini’s squabbling behind and the Audis and McLaren further back still in the order it would prove to be an all Ferrari battle for pole, Zhuhai pole setter Marco Cioci coming home third this time as Mathieu Vaxiviere put his #5 DH Racing Ferrari ahead of Cioci’s #38 Spirit of Race example.
Neither though had an answer to the pace of Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #37 Team BBT Ferrari 488 GT3, the brand new car replacing the fire damaged car from Zhuhai almost into the overall top 10 on the grid with a 1:37.083, a tenth and a half clear of the chasing pair.
Pics copyright Brecht Decancq