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European Le Mans Series

Hanley Goes Eight-Tenths Clear in Paul Ricard Friday Practice

DragonSpeed quickest as Oreca-based LMP2s command the first practice session of 2019…

Photo: MPS Agency

Ben Hanley set the quickest lap time during Friday’s opening European Le Mans Series free practice session of the season for this weekend’s 4 Hours of Le Castellet.

The DragonSpeed driver turned in a time of 1:45.759 behind the wheel of the American team’s No. 21 Oreca 07 Gibson to lead the LMP2 field by almost nine tenths of a second.

ORECA-based machinery occupied the top six with only 0.106 seconds separating sports car rookie Arjun Maini in the second-placed RLR MSport car from Memo Rojas in the sixth-placed IDEC Sport entry.

Maini’s time of 1:42.085 edged the Indian driver ahead of fellow LMP2 debutant Job van Uitert who was at the wheel of G-Drive Racing’s Aurus 01-badged Oreca.

Antonin Borga lapped fourth for Cool Racing, while Anders Fjorbach completed the top five in the High Class Racing machine ahead of Rojas.

The quickest Ligier JS P217 Gibson placed seventh, with reigning Asian Le Mans Series champion Paul di Resta setting a time of 1:42.288 in the No. 22 United Autosports entry.

Thunderhead Carlin Racing’s Dallara P217 Gibson, which is the only car of its type in the field, was the only LMP2 car not to complete a flying lap during the 90-minute session.

In LMP3, Damiani Fioravanti topped the timesheets with a time of 1:50.592 behind the wheel of the No. 10 Oregon Team Norma M30 Nissan.

Normas occupied the top four places with Fioravanti lapping seven-tenths quicker than Realtime Racing’s David Droux in second, while M Racing and Ultimate sat third and fourth.

The best effort from the Ligier JS P3 Nissan runners was a 1:52.068 from Wayne Boyd of United Autosports.

Porsche 911 RSRs ran 1-2-3 in the GTE category with Matteo Cairoli leading the way on a 1:54.473 in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing car.

The Italian was followed closely by Thomas Preining (No. 88 Proton Competition) and Joerg Bergmeister (Team Project 1) while Aaron Scott came through eight tenths behind the leader in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

A second free practice session is scheduled for Saturday morning, ahead of class-by-class qualifying later in the day at 12:55 p.m. local time (06:55 eastern).

RESULTS: Free Practice 1

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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