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European Le Mans Series

Sato Tops Opening Prologue Day at Barcelona

United Autosports driver Marino Sato fastest across ten hours of running on first day of Barcelona Prologue…

Photo: MPS Agency

United Autosports driver Marino Sato set the pace in the opening day of Prologue pre-season testing for the European Le Mans Series at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Sato steered the No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson to a best lap of 1:28.979 during the first of three sessions to take place across Monday as part of a two-day Prologue ahead of this weekend’s 4 Hours of Barcelona season opener.

In the process, the Japanese driver outpaced Gregoire Saucy’s Pro-Am-leading No. 29 Richard Mille by TDS Oreca by 0.123 seconds, while Malthe Jakobsen picked up third for Cool Racing.

In total, ten hours of track time was available for ELMS contenders on Monday, with a pair of four-hour sessions in the morning and afternoon joined by a two-hour night running session taking place from 7 p.m. CEST (1 p.m. EDT).

Most of the top times in LMP2 came during the morning session, with the exception of James Allen’s 1:29.486 that put the No. 30 Duqueine Team Oreca fifth overall across the day behind AF Corse’s Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Reigning champions Algarve Pro Racing ended the day in sixth with a 1:29.496 set by Alex Lynn, with Panis Racing, AO by TF and the pair of Proton Competition-run Orecas completing the top ten.

In LMP3, Team Virage driver Gillian Henrion set the pace aboard the No. 8 Ligier JS P320 Nissan, posting a 1:35.782.

Manuel Espirito Santo took second for reigning champions Cool Racing, 0.239 seconds behind Henrion but still ahead of Ultimate’s Matthieu Lahaye and Racing Spirit of Leman driver Jacques Wolff.

Daniel Serra, meanwhile, reeled off a 1:41.316 in the morning aboard the No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 to go quickest in LMGT3.

The Brazilian’s effort was a mere 0.065 seconds faster than the 1:41.381 that Valentin Hasse-Clot posted aboard the No. 59 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo to lead the afternoon session.

Matt Griffin took third for Spirit of Race, ahead of JMW Motorsport driver Ben Tuck and Davide Rigon.

Rigon, driving the No. 86 GR Racing Ferrari, was at the head of a trio of drivers that set their quickest time in the afternoon, also including Iron Dames’ Michelle Gatting and the No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Andrea Caldarelli.

Only one LMGT3 driver recorded their quickest time in the night session: ninth-placed Lorcan Hanafin aboard the No. 97 Grid Motorsport by TF Aston Martin.

The night session only saw limited running, with just 14 out of 42 cars setting timed laps.

Seven more hours of track time will be available to ELMS teams on Tuesday, kicking off with another four-hour session at 9 a.m. CEST (3 a.m. EDT).

RESULTS: Session 1/Session 2/Session 3

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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