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European Le Mans Series

Beche Takes Red Flag-Aided Ricard Pole for TDS Racing

Late stoppage secures return pole position for Beche and French squad on home soil…

Photo: MPS Agency

Mathias Beche put TDS Racing on pole position for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, the opening round of the European Le Mans Series.

Beche posted a 1:43:038 in the No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson to go fastest in the 17-car field.

It marks a notable pole position for the French team, which returns to the series under its own name for the first time since 2018, although it previously operated entries for the likes of G-Drive Racing and Realteam Racing.

Beche outperformed the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca by 0.153 seconds, but was aided by a late red flag.

The stoppage was caused by the No. 40 Graff Oreca of David Droux coming to a halt on track.

The red flag stopped Racing Team Turkey’s Jack Aitken from taking a run at pole, as the session was halted as the one-time Grand Prix racer was closing in on a significant improvement in the No.34 Oreca.

It left the red prototype fourth overall, behind the No. 9 Prema car driven by Louis Deletraz.

Nicolas Jamin was fifth for Panis Racing, ahead of Nielsen Racing’s Ben Hanley, AF Corse’s Nicklas Nielsen and Patrick Pilet for IDEC Sport.

Fabio Scherer was ninth for Inter Europol Competitition while the top ten was completed by Algarve Pro Racing’s No. 45 Oreca driven by series newcomer Bent Viscaal.

Algarve Pro’s second car, driven by James Allen, failed to set a time in the ten-minute session, much like Yifei Ye’s No. 37 Cool Racing Oreca.

Ye had an early flyer deleted for track limits, but had not posted a new flying lap when Droux’ stoppage led to a premature end to the session.

While the French squad suffered misfortunes in the LMP2 session, Malthe Jakobsen took it to pole position in the LMP3 class.

The Danish youngster jumped to the top spot aboard the No. 17 Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan with a 1:49:390, before improving on his own fastest lap to end the session with a 1:49:008.

That was enough to hold off Alex Kapadia’s No. 5 RLR MSport Ligier, who took second place at the flag but lacked 0.339 seconds behind Jakobsen.

The second Cool Racing Ligier, driven by Antoine Doquon, took third ahead of the lone Duqueine D08 Nissan driven by DKR Engineering’s Sebastian Alvarez in fourth.

Finn Gehrsitz rounded out the top five for United Autosports.

Memo Gidley took pole position in the GTE class, outperforming Ahmad al Harthy and Sarah Bovy to take the top spot.

The American driver posted a best lap of 1:54:755 behind the wheel of the No. 32 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, securing the first ELMS pole for both team and driver.

Gidley jumped to the top of the timesheets in the closing minutes of the session, surpassing Al Harthy’s earlier best effort of 1:55:008.

The Oman Racing by TF Sport driver improved to a 1:54:909 afterwards, but it was not enough to beat Gidley to the top spot.

Iron Dames’ Sarah Bovy put in a late improvement aboard the No. 83 Ferrari to go third, ahead of the Proton Competition Porsche duo of Christian Ried and Michael Fassbender.

Andrew Haryanto was sixth for Absolute Racing, ahead of JMW Motorsport’s Giacomo Petrobelli and Christian Hook in the second Rinaldi Ferrari.

Takeshi Kimura took ninth in the Car Guy-liveried No. 74 Kessel Racing Ferrari, with Duncan Cameron completing the top ten for Spirit of Race.

The 4 Hours of Le Castellet starts Sunday at 11:00 am local time.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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