Ben Hanley scored a last-gasp pole position for DragonSpeed ahead of tomorrow’s 4 Hours of Silverstone, with a 1:44.040 at the end of the ELMS Qualifying session in the #21 Oreca 07.
The 32-year-old’s impressive pole lap followed a frantic end to the session which saw a red flag called while the marshals had to recover Richard Bradley’s #40 Oreca 07, which went off into the gravel at Becketts just a few minutes in.
Second in the session was Filipe Albuquerque, who set a 1:44.314 when the session went green again to score provisional pole for United Autosports’ Ligier JSP217. It wasn’t good enough though, as Hanley improved on his first flyer, which had put the DragonSpeed crew P2.
“We spent two laps getting the tyres ready for the first push, and then the red flag came out just as I was starting to push in the final sector,” said Hanley, who will share the #21 Oreca with Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman in tomorrow’s race.
“After the session got back underway we then had to push straight away, and on my second lap, the second and third sectors were just right. The team did a great job in getting the car set up so well.”
The #39 Graff Oreca ended up third, ahead of the G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed Oreca, following an impressive recovery drive from Ryo Hirakawa. The Toyota third driver set a 1:45.216 at the end of the session, after having a similar off to the Graff Oreca in the opening minutes, though unlike Bradley, he was able to get going again.
The #25 Algarve Pro Ligier rounded out the top five.
In LMP3 Mikkel Jensen in the AT Racing Ligier JS P3 snatched class Pole Position from the grasp of Sean Rayhall in the #3 United Autosports Ligier just before the end of the P3 session. The time from the dane was a 1:54.665, just a tenth faster than Rayhall’s best.
Third in the session was the second of the United Autosports LMP3 entries – the #3.
“It’s been a difficult weekend so far, after having problems with the car in practice, as we couldn’t do a practice Qualifying run,” said Jensen. “The car worked really well during the session though.”
In GTE, it was TF Sport which took top honours, after Danish Aston Martin works driver Nicki Thiim steered the British team’s Vantage GTE to the top at its home race with a 1:58.269.
Thiim’s time was just 0.197 better than Ross Gunn’s best lap in the Beechdean AMR Vantage that ended up second, handing the British brand a 1-2.
“It’s our home circuit, we should be strong here!” Exclaimed Thiim. “It’s good to try a different championship with a new team. Looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Third, and the first of the other manufacturers represented was Spirit of Race, following Matt Griffin’s 1:59.791, ahead of the Proton Competition Porsche that ended up just outside the top three.
Tomorrow’s four-hour ELMS opener at Silverstone is set to get underway at 14:30 local time.