DragonSpeed’s 10Star ORECA 07 Gibson got off to a flying start in the first on-track running of the 4 Hours of Portimão weekend, Nicolas Lapierre running fastest in the LMP2 field with a 1:34.182.
The Frenchman, who won last time out when the ELMS travelled to Algarve in 2010, was 0.240 quicker than the next fastest car in the class, which in the end was the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier, Nathanael Berthon setting the time.
Completing the top three was the #27 SMP Racing Dallara, meaning all three LMP2 chassis in the series finished inside the top three. The best time from the Russian team’s P217 was a 1:34.942 from Matevos Isaakyan.
The two LMP2 championship contenders – the #22 G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed ORECA and United Autosports Ligier JS P217 – meanwhile, ended up fourth and 10th respectively, Ryo Hirakawa running fastest in the former with a 1:35.897, and Filipe Albuquerque reeling off a 1:36.810 for the latter.
The only drama in the P2 division during the session affected the High Class Racing camp, its Dallara coming to a stop with just over an hour to go with Anders Fjordbach at the wheel. The car was recovered to the pits, causing a brief Full-Course yellow but did rejoin the action later in the session.
In the LMP3 ranks, the #9 AT Racing Ligier, which won last time out at Spa, set the pace, courtesy of a 1:40.758 from Mikkel Jensen. His time was almost a second faster than the rest of the field. Antonin Borga got closest to his time, with a 1:41.555 in the #7 Duqueiene Engineering Norma. The #10 Oregon Team Norma, completed the top three, with a 1:41.699 after the car caused a red flag for stopping out on track with Andres Mendez aboard.
GTE meanwhile, was headlined by the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Matt Griffin, the Irishman setting a 1:43.760 to go six tenths quicker than the championship-challenging JMW Ferrari.
JMW’s title rivals at TF Sport ended up third, the car almost a second off the ultimate pace in the session, with Euan Hankey setting the best time in the car, a 1:44.671.
Free Practice 2 at Algarve is set to begin at 09:35am tomorrow, ahead of Qualifying.