Ben Hanley’s last-ditch improvement took pole position by 0.3s for Dragonspeed’s Oreca-Gibson, but the British driver’s lap of 1:41.798 was under threat right until the chequered flag in a three-way battle with Paul-Loup Chatin (IDEC Sport) and Filipe Albuquerque (United Autosports).
Chatin was the first LMP2 runner into the 1:42s, before Albuquerque and then Hanley established Oreca/Michelin dominance. Nicolas Lapierre’s #37 Cool Racing Oreca completes row two of the grid, with under half a second covering the top four.
The fastest Dunlop-shod car was Will Stevens’ Panis-Barthez Competition Oreca, in fifth place overall and at 1:42.716, a second off pole and one-tenth shy of Lapierre’s fourth-place time.
Albuquerque pushed back hard having briefly traded times at the top. A spin at Club, stalling mid-track, ended a spirited effort: a solid challenge
nevertheless for the #22 entry, with it’s brand new Oreca chassis having hardly turned a wheel prior to arriving at this meeting.
Chatin might also have improved in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca had a spinner in front of him not distracted a late flying lap.
Ben Barnicoat and Harrison Newey both needed to post a lap after yesterday’s drama and would, therefore, share the session in the re-tubbed Carlin Dallara, placing the car at the back of the LMP2 class for this afternoon’s race, which starts at 14:30 local time.
M Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher came out on top after a feisty scrap for LMP3 grid positions, the French driver’s 1:53.468 putting the #19 Norma M30–Nissan on pole.
The Normas of Damiano Fioravanti (Oregon Team) and Mikkel Jensen (EuroInternational) had traded times in rapid succession, Fioravanti coming out better. That was before Matthieu Lahaye’s #17 Ultimate Norma deposed the Oregon Team car by a hundredth of a second for second place. This dropped Jensen onto the second row of the grid in fourth place.
Tomas Preining’s #88 Proton Competition Porsche stamped clear authority over the GTE qualifying session. His first quick lap was a 1:55.713, three seconds quicker than last year’s class pole time here.
The Austrian’s position was never really threatened, and as other times started to edge forwards his Porsche’s dominance was assured; a 1:55.322 late in the session left him eight tenths clear on pole having taken a change of tyres.
Andrea Piccini’s 1:56.178 placed the Kessel Racing Ferrari second on the grid before overcooking its entry at Village corner and spoiling any chance of a quicker attempt, while the Spirit Of Race Ferrari was third, Matt Griffin having shown well early in the session in the #55 entry.