DragonSpeed storms to ELMS pole at Silverstone

Ben Hanley broke United Autosports’ domination of the European Le Mans Series as he swept to pole position for DragonSpeed ahead of the 4 Hours of Silverstone.

Ben Hanley broke United Autosports’ domination of the European Le Mans Series as he swept to pole position for DragonSpeed ahead of the 4 Hours of Silverstone. As he has been throughout practice, Filipe Albuquerque was initially on top in the LMP2 class in the United Oreca with a 1m42.127sec with Hanley just 0.172sec in the American machine. A brief stop in the middle of the ten-minute session to switch onto new tyres dropped the times even further, but Albuquerque missed his chance to lower his benchmark as he span coming out of Vale. His spin was immediately compounded by Hanley finding a chunk of extra time as he smashed through the 1m42sec barrier to clock a 1m41.798sec. Third went to another Oreca 07 as Paul Loup Chatin set a 1m42.460sec in the IDEC Sport entry - just a tenth ahead of Nicolas Lapierre in the Cool Racing Oreca, who himself was only a tenth-and-a-half clear of Will Stevens in the Panis-Barthez Competition Oreca.

LMP3 proved to be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it session as pole swapped between crews. Eventually coming out on top was Yann Ehrlacher in the M Racing Norma M30, but it wasn’t an easy run to the top. Initially, it was former World Series Formula V8 racer Damiano Fioravanti who was the man to beat in the Oregon Team Norma as he jumped up to the head of the field. However, he was toppled from the head of the field by Mathieu Lahaye in the Ultimate Norma as the Frenchman found a bit of extra time in the middle sector. Both of their efforts were in vain though, as Ehrlacher - the nephew of multiple touring car champion Yvan Muller - powered up to the top with a 1m53.468sec, which was nearly three-tenths clear of Lahaye’s best efforts. Fourth went to Mikkel Jensen in the Eurointernational Ligier. He was third for a time, but got relegated by Fioravanti at the flag as the latter improved his previous best on his final lap.

Porsche prevailed in the German v Italian battle in GTE as Thomas Preining - pulling double duty in the FIA WEC - took a comfortable pole for Proton Competition. The Porsche 911 RSR driver’s first lap of the session was almost a second clear of the rest of the pack, and despite other crews nibbling away at a bit of the deficit, Preining improved again on his final lap to finish with a 1m55.322sec - 0.856sec clear of the rest of the field. Best of the rest was Giocomo Piccini in the #60 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo who beat out Matt Griffin - in the Spirit of Race Ferrari - by three-tenths. The only other Porsche in the class - the sister Dempsey-Proton 911 - was fourth in the hands of Matteo Cairoli.