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European Le Mans Series

Lapierre Quickest on First Day of Pre-Season Test

Cool Racing’s Lapierre sets LMP2 pace at Paul Ricard; United and Iron Lynx top the other classes…

Photo: MPS Agency

Cool Racing driver Nicolas Lapierre set the fastest lap on the opening day of the official European Le Mans Series pre-season test at Paul Ricard.

The four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner placed the No. 37 Oreca 07 Gibson second in the first of Tuesday’s three sessions before posting the day’s overall best time of 1:39.475 during the second spell in the afternoon.

This leading effort put Lapierre 0.084 seconds clear of the second-best time of the day, set during the evening session by Duqueine Oreca driver Tristan Gommendy.

Third-quickest was the High Class Racing Oreca, which also had its best time set in the evening courtesy of Anders Fjordbach who clocked in at 1:39.624.

Three other LMP2 teams – United Autosports, G-Drive Racing and defending series champion IDEC Sport – also broke the 1-minute 40-second barrier.

Phil Hanson was fourth-fastest by the end of the day in the No. 22 United Oreca, while new G-Drive signing Mikkel Jensen lapped fifth ahead of IDEC’s Richard Bradley.

All of the top six times came during either session two or three, while the pace in the opening four-hour session from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. was generated by DragonSpeed’s Ben Hanley who produced a time of 1:40.889 at the wheel of the No. 21 Oreca.

In LMP3, United Autosports driver Tom Gamble led the way in the British squad’s No. 2 Ligier JS P320 Nissan.

Gamble’s afternoon flyer of 1:48.421 stood firm through the night session, which was topped by Graff driver Vincent Capillaire who settled for second in the end-of-day rankings on a 1:48.677.

Ex-FIA Formula 3 driver Niko Kari placed third for Eurointernational, while Realteam Racing’s David Droux went fourth-quickest. 

Ligiers occupied the top four positions, while the fastest lap from a Duqueine D08 Nissan came from reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup champion Laurents Hoerr who came through a second off the class pace in the No. 2 DKR Engineering machine.

Iron Lynx claimed the top two positions in GTE, with team co-founder Andrea Piccini going quickest in the No. 60 Ferrari 488 GTE with a time of 1:52.243.

The Italian ended up just over a second clear of his teammate in the No. 83 Iron Lynx car Michelle Gatting, while Matt Griffin finished the day third in Spirit of Race’s Ferrari.

The ELMS field will resume testing on Wednesday with two four-hour sessions on offer.

RESULTS: Morning / Afternoon / Evening

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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