Nicolas Lapierre, on his return to the DragonSpeed team (after racing with Toyota at Le Mans) ran fastest in the opening ELMS Free Practice session at the Red Bull Ring. The Frenchman, in the team’s 10Star #21 ORECA 07 Gibson, set a 1:20.588 in the opening minutes of the session which proved unbeatable.
It was a almost three tenths faster of DragonSpeed’s second car, the #22 G-Drive Racing-badged ORECA, which finished up with a 1:20.865 set by Nicolas Minassian. It was a fast start to the weekend for the ex-Peugeot factory driver, who’s stepping back into the driving seat this weekend in place of Super-GT bound Ryo Hirakawa.
Lapierre’s time was also marginally faster than the Pole time from last year, with the older-spec LMP2 cars. It was a 1:20.7 by Paul Loup Chatin.
Third in the running order was the #39 GRAFF ORECA 07, which slotted into the top three with 30 minutes remaining in the session after a 1:21. 219 by Enzo Guibbert.
Behind, was the first of the Ligiers – the #28 IDEC Sport JS P217 – which set the fourth fastest time after a 1:21.249 courtesy of Olivier Pla.
The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara completed the top five, Andrea Bellichi’s best time eight tenths off the ultimate pace.
Oregon Team, with its Norma M30 topped the times in LMP3 thanks to a rapid 1:26.376 tour of the circuit by Dario Capitano, three tenths faster than the best times from the other drivers in the class.
Second fastest in the class was the #3 United Autosports Ligier of Wayne Boyd. The Britain’s quickest time was a 1:27.030. The #9 AT Racing Ligier was a further three tenths adrift in third.
Further down the running order, was the #7 Duqueine Engineering Norma which set the sixth best time, making for a promising outing for its first ELMS session with the car. Its best time was a 1:27.372, though it didn’t have an entirely clean run, after David Droux had a trip through the gravel at Turn 4 in the second half of the session.
And in the GTE ranks, WEC Nurburgring winners Proton Competition, finished on top. Matteo Cairoli’s 1:29.728 put the #77 Porsches marginally faster than the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin, which after a rapid 1:29.753 moved into second place.
The #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari rounded out the top three, but made for the biggest news in the session. The team served a 10-minute Stop & Go penalty in the session for excessive abuse of track limits by Giorgio Roda. In the end the Andrea Bertolini managed to better Roda’s deleted time, putting the team in the top three with a 1:29.815.
ELMS Free Practice 2 is set to begin at 09:25 tomorrow morning, local time in Austria.
Photo courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography