Michael Benham clocked the fastest lap (1:47.964) of anyone at the very end of the heavily interuppted LMP3 qualifying session at Monza this afternoon in the #25 Lanan Racing Norma M30 to take pole in LMP3 for today’s two-hour race.
The result marks Lanan Racing’s maiden pole position in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. “I am delighted for the team” said an emotional Benham after the session. “The team worked so hard on the car. We are new to the championship… it has not sinked in yet. It’s a boyhood dream come true.”
Second in class was Anthony Wells in the #2 Ecurie Ecosse Ligier JSP3 (1:47.974), less than one tenth behind the pole sitter. Taking the final podium position in the category was Eric Debard in the #30 CD Sport Norma M30 (1:48.127).
The session was packed with incidents and was red flagged three occasions: less than three minutes into the session, John Schauerman spun the #4 Brookspeed International Ligier JSP3 at Turn 4.
Then 10 minutes into the session, again at Turn 4, Najaf Husain spun the #32 United Autosport Ligier JS P3. Finally, a few minutes before the chequered flag, Eric Debard violently hit the barrier before the Parabolica and significantly damaged the CD Sport Norma’s front end.
A trip over to the MLMC paddock revealed that the damage was not substantial, and a new nose was being prepared for the car.
In GT3 it was a back-and-forth session that saw the lone Porsche in the series, the #88 Ebimotors 911 GT3 R driven by Alessandro Baccani, score pole with a 1:49.330.
“I’m so happy and proud for my first pole in the championship,” said Baccani after the session, “my team lives near Monza so I’m so happy for them.”
Falling just short of the top spot was the #8 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 with a 1:49.509 from Sergio Pianezzola, after he took provisional pole on his final flying lap, before Baccani re-took top spot seconds later.
Also within a second of the pole time was the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 with Pierguiseppe Perazzini who’s best time of a 1:49.970 will be good enough for third in class.
The #88 Ebimotors Porsche completed one out lap at the start of the session before coming into the pits to make a change of tyres which seemed to be the key to pole for the team that snagged the top spot on the final lap of the session.