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Asian Le Mans Series

Nielsen Oreca on Pole for Both 4H Dubai Races

Ben Hanley tops both Dubai qualifying sessions; dead heat in close-fought GT3 class…

Photo: Asian LMS

Nielsen Racing will start this weekend’s pair of Asian Le Mans Series races from pole position after Ben Hanley led both qualifying sessions on Saturday morning.

Hanley put the No. 4 Oreca 07 Gibson on pole for this afternoon’s season-opening four-hour contest with a time of 1:45.248 in Q1, followed immediately by a 1:46.075 effort in the second 10-minute LMP2 session that determined the grid for Sunday’s encounter.

The Brit went eight-tenths clear of Graff driver David Droux in the first run, while the gap came down marginally in Q2 as Droux trailed by three-quarters of a second.

Dennis Andersen ranked third in the opening session for High Class Racing but was beaten to that position in the second spell by ARC Bratislava driver Neale Muston.

There was a dead heat in the first of two GT3 qualifying sessions as Inception Racing McLaren driver Ben Barnicoat and AF Corse’s Vincent Abril set identical times of 1:55.217 around the 3.349-mile circuit.

Barnicoat was classified as the session leader and Race 1 pole-sitter courtesy of his number coming first chronologically, while Abril settled for second on the grid.

Axcil Jefferies ran close behind the pair in third driving the No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, with Mikael Grenier fourth for Mercedes-AMG squad SPS Automotive Performance. Both drivers fell within 0.121 seconds of the front-running duo.

The margins were tight again in the Race 2 session which ended up being led by Jonny Adam in the No. 95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

Adam hit the top spot by just 0.003 seconds from Mikkel Jensen in the No. 74 Kessel Racing Ferrari, with Barnicoat and Abril sharing row two of the grid and Jefferies placing fifth.

The top five drivers were separated by only 0.135 seconds while 17 out of the 23 participants fell within the same second as Adam.

Jefferies was the pole-sitter for the GT3 Am sub-category on both occasions.

In the LMP3 class, Laurents Hoerr swept the two qualifying sessions at the wheel of the DKR Engineering Duqueine D08 Nissan.

After leading Free Practice on Friday, Hoerr reeled off a time of 1:50.807 that put him 1.2 seconds clear of second-placed Xavier Lloveras in the opening session.

Lloveras, driving the Graff-run G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan, brought the gap down to 0.842 seconds in Q2 but was unable to unseat Hoerrr who produced another quick time of 1:50.989 to remain on top.

Inter Europol Competition will have a second-row grid spot for both races courtesy of Guillherme Moura De Oliveira’s qualifying efforts, with the Polish team set to start third alongside CD Sport in Race 1 and fourth behind Nielsen Racing in Race 2.

There was a brief red flag during the early stages of Q1 for LMP3 after the Nielsen Racing Ligier stopped on track, before returning to action in the second session.

The opening race of the 2022 Asian Le Mans Series is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET) on Saturday.

RESULTS: Qualifying 1 / Qualifying 2

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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