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European Le Mans Series

Hirakawa Tops ELMS FP1 with Lap Record

Ryo Hirakawa fastest in ELMS FP1 at Silverstone, sets lap record…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Ryo Hirakawa was the fastest driver in the opening Free Practice session on Thursday afternoon for the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone, setting a lap record in the process.

The Japanese driver set a time of 1.44.699 in the No. 22 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, more than five seconds quicker than the previous lap record set two years ago by Harry Tincknell.

The ELMS, along with the FIA World Endurance Championship, sees the debut of new, more powerful LMP2 machinery this weekend.

Ben Hanley was the second-fastest driver in the 90-minute session, taking the sister DragonSpeed car to a flying lap time 0.980 seconds slower than the team’s G-Drive-backed entry.

The Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P217 Gibson, driven by Andrea Pizzitola, was the best of the non-Oreca entries, while fifth-placed Villorba Corse was the fastest Dallara chassis, almost three seconds off the pace.

Sean Rayhall led the way for United Autosports in LMP3, setting a time of 1:54.221 in the No. 2 Ligier JS P3 Nissan, some eight tenths quicker than the RLR MSport entry in second.

It was an Aston Martin one-two in GTE, with Nicki Thiim going faster than Darren Turner in the TF Sport and Beechdean AMR entries respectively.

The session had four full course yellows, the first two of which were called when Duncan Cameron in the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE and Anders Fjordbach of High Class Racing each went off course.

The No. 16 Panis Barthez Competition LMP3 car caused the other two FCYs, with the final one coming just minutes before the end of the session, causing a premature end to the running.

Free Practice 2 will take place at 9 a.m. local time on Friday, with qualifying in the afternoon.

RESULTS: Free Practice 1

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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