Continuing its form from free practice, DragonSpeed locked out the front row in what was the closest Pole battle in European Le Mans Series history at the Red Bull Ring.
Léo Roussel was the man of the hour, and took Pole in the #22 G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed Oreca 07 with a 1:18.435 lap. Nicolas Lapierre ended up in second position, only five thousands of a second short of his teammate with a 1:18.440.
After Roussel took the lead of the session on his third flying lap, Lapierre tried to retaliate but failed to respect track limits on two occasions and saw two of his qualifying laps canceled by Race Control as a consequence.
Roussel was almost speechless after he returned to the pits.
“I am living a dream,” he said. “I have had a great fight with Nico. The team has done a great job throughout the week. I really have no words to describe my feelings right now. We obviously have an opportunity to score a lot of points tomorrow but it will be a long race”.
Fight for third position overall was fierce too. Filipe Albuquerque managed to clock a 1:18.834 in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217, reducing the gap to the fastest Oreca to four tenths of second.
Nathanael Berthon in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217 finished fourth (1:19.609) while SMP Racing scored an honorable fifth position in its maiden ELMS qualifying session with the #27 Dallara P217 (1:19.740).
In LMP3 David Droux handed Duqueine Engineering’s #7 Norma M30 Pole Position on its first Qualifying appearance with the team. Droux’s best time was a 1:25.657 at the death, in what was a shootout for the P3 runners.
“It was the first Pole int he ELMS for our Norma, I couldn’t be more happy,” Droux said. “This is my favourite track, last year I was closet to the Pole and didn’t get it, this year I did, so I’m happy.”
It was a frantic session, shortened by few minutes after Ross kaiser in the #6 360 Racing Ligier lost his left-rear wheel on the run to Turn 3, bringing out red flags.
Second was the #9 AT Racing Ligier of Mikkel Jensen, which briefly looked like it had taken Pole Position in the class, though his final flying lap was deleted for track limits, demoting the car to second.
Third was the #19 YMR Norma M30 of Yann Erlacher, who briefly held provisional pole, though the Frenchman couldn’t match the best times from the car ahead.
Rounding out the top five in the class was the #3 United Autosports Ligier of Wayne Boyd, 0.422 off Pole in fourth, ahead of the #16 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier.
Andrea Bertolini in the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GTE dominated the LM GTE Qualifying session. He set the class leading time on his third flying lap and remained on top of the time sheets until the end of the session with a fastest lap of 1:28.297.
“It is our first pole this season, finally !” said the Italian. “We have worked very well throughout the week end. We have a good car here with a set up which differs from the one we are used to having.
“What’s important is to have a comfortable car under braking. We have been working a lot to achieve this. Of course, it will be a long and tough race, as always, but we are looking forward to it” he added.
Matt Griffin in the #55 sister car finished second of the session, less than two tenths behind the category’s pole sitting car (1:28.476). He managed to secure his second place on the grid only in the final moments of the session after fighting hard with Matteo Cairoli in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR. The Italian snatched third place in class with a fastest lap of 1:28.606.
Johnny Cocker in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 GTE ended fourth (1:28.713) while Nicki Thiim completed the top five (1:28.862).