Nicolas Lapierre got DragonSpeed off to a flying start in Free Practice 1 at Paul Ricard, with a 1:54.234 in the #21 10Star ORECA 07 Gibson. The time from the Frenchman, on home soil, was just under a tenth quicker than the #39 GRAFF ORECA which managed a best time of 1:54.333, set by Enzo Guibbert.
Completing the top three was the second of the DragonSpeed-run ORECAs, Nicolas Minassian in the championship-leading G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed 07 touring the circuit in 1:54.789 early in the session. It made it a 1-2-3 for French sportscar manufacturer ORECA, which is based at the Paul Ricard circuit.
The fastest of the other chassis in LMP2, was the #27 SMP Racing Dallara P217. The Russian-flagged prototype managed to finish up fourth overall with a time of 1:54.866, 0.632 quicker than Lapierre’s time in first of the DragonSpeed cars. Ligier’s fastest JS P217 – the #32 United Autosports example – ended the day sixth, 0.827 off the ultimate pace.
In the LMP3 ranks, its was the #15 RLR MSport Ligier JS P3 which led the way, with a 2:03.054 by Alex Kapadia. The Britain’s lap was a tenth faster than the #6 360 Racing Ligier which slotted in second, and the first of the four Norma M30s – the #19 from Yvan Muller – that came home third two tenths off the top spot.
GTE meanwhile, was topped by the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Andrea Roda, Gianluca Road and Andrea Bertolini. Fastest of the Italian trio was Bertolini, who lapped the track in 2:05.961 to leapfrog the TF Sport Aston Martin in the second half of the 90-minute session.
Third of the six-car class behind TF’s Aston was the #99 Beechdean AMR Vantage, which had its best time set by Ross Gunn, a 2:06.936. The #55 Spirit of Race crew of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott – who won last time out at the Red Bull Ring – claimed fourth place with a 2:06.953.
Two cars had issues in the session. The first being the #7 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30, which stopped out on track after completing just 11 laps of the Le Castellet circuit. The #7 is the team’s new M30 for the weekend, chassis #10. The other, was the #40 GRAFF ORECA, which had to be towed back to the pits after the checkered flag.
Free Practice 2 for the ELMS runners is set to start tomorrow morning at 9:25am, local time in France.
Photo courtesy of the European Le Mans Series