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Hanley Steers DragonSpeed To Fourth Pole Of 2017 At Spa

First pole for Proton in GTE

The 10Star DragonSpeed ORECA 07 Gibson of Ben Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman will start tomorrow’s 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from pole position, after an incredible 2:02.457 lap by Hanley. It marks the #21 10Star crew’s third pole of the season.

“We had the pace in FP1 and FP2, we knew we had it, it was just about putting a lap in,” Hanley said. “Lap 1 was the lap because the tyre deg is quite high here. It’s an iconic track and in these car’s it’s great because the performance of the cars is so high.”

Behind, making it an all-DragonSpeed front row, was Ryo Hirakawa in the #22 G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed machine. The Japanese racer – on his return to the team after missing the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet rounds – set a 2:02.832.

Best of the rest was the #39 GRAFF ORECA, Enzo Guibbert putting the French team in the top three with a 2:03.053. The fastest Ligier – that of United Autosports – finished up fourth, Filipe Albuquerque set a 2:03.330.

It was a tough outing for the Dallara P217s, the best of them SMP Racing’s in ninth, 1.8 seconds off the pace.

AT Racing stole the show in the LMP3 session, Mikkel Jensen setting a monster 2:13.634 in the final minute to go to the top in the Austrian team’s Ligier by over seven tenths. It’s the team’s second pole position of the year

“It was an impressive lap, especially the second sector, it was really impressive. We’ve had an up-down season, it’s good to be back, now we have to perform in the race,” Jensen’s teammate Alexander Talkanista said.

The Dane’s lap beat the two United Autosports Ligiers to Pole, the #3 of Wayne Boyd finishing second with a 2:14.345, ahead of Sean Rayhall in the #2 after the pair traded fast times, the #3 will start third after the championship-leading American’s 2:14.487.

Completing the second row of the grid will be the #6 360 Racing Ligier, with the first of the Norma’s #7 Duqueine Engineering M30 which fifth after David Droux managed a 2:15.005.

There were no major incidents in the P3 session, though the #4 Cool Racing Ligier was spotted with a right-rear puncture at the end. It was a tough session for the French team, which subsequently could only manage a time to go second to last in the class.

In GTE, Matteo Cairoli put Proton Competition’s Porsche 911 RSR on Pole Position for the first time this season, with a 2:16.757, the Italian going three tenths faster than the other runners.

“We are glad to be on pole here in Spa,” Cairoli. “I enjoyed every second, the team did a perfect job with the set up. Tomorrow is the big day, we will try and bring it home. The priority is to make no mistakes, we have a competitive car and hope for the best.”

In the end, second even after an improvement late on, was the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage of Nicki Thiim. The Dane’s best time was a 2:17.115. Will Stevens put JMW third, with a 2:17.684 in his return to the team, the Brit jumping from sixth to third on the screens late in the session with his flyer, making him the fastest Ferrari 488 driver.

Just outside the top three was the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari, with the #51 sister 488 fifth. The Beechdean Aston Martin ended up sixth after Ross Gunn’s run in the car.

It was a tight session in GTE, the entire field separated by just 1.3 seconds.

Next up for the European Le Mans Series runners is tomorrow’s four-hour race at Spa, starting at 12:00 local time.

Photos courtesy of the European Le Mans Series