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European Le Mans Series

United’s Brundle Tops Second Day of Paul Ricard Test

Brundle on top on Wednesday as ELMS pre-season testing winds up in southern France…

Photo: ELMS

United Autosports driver Alex Brundle set the fastest lap of the European Le Mans Series official pre-season test at Paul Ricard on the second and final day of running.

Brundle turned in a time of 1:38.158 behind the wheel of the No. 32 Oreca 07 Gibson during the afternoon session on Wednesday, beating Nicolas Lapierre’s Tuesday benchmark by 1.317 seconds.

DragonSpeed’s Ben Hanley set the pace in the four-hour Wednesday morning run, which was brought to a premature halt after two hours and 40 minutes when the Richard Mille Racing Oreca crashed at Signes with Katherine Legge at the helm.

The ELMS later issued an update confirming that Legge had been taken to hospital after sustaining a broken bone in her lower left leg and a broken wrist.

Testing resumed in the afternoon for a four-hour spell that ran to its intended duration, although there was a brief red flag stoppage to allow for the recovery of the crashed Duqueine Oreca of Konstantin Tereschenko, who was reported uninjured.

Most of the test’s fastest laps came during the second session on Wednesday.

Brundle headed up a United Autosports one-two with his teammate Filipe Albuquerque lapping two-tenths behind in the team’s No. 22 Oreca.

Third-quickest in the session and overall was Mercedes Formula E driver Nyck de Vries, who posted a time of 1:38.516 aboard the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus-badged Oreca.

Lapierre was fourth in the order for Cool Racing after improving on his table-topping effort from the previous day, while Paul-Loup Chatin was fifth-fastest in the Oreca run by 2019 series champion IDEC Sport.

Hanley’s flyer from the morning was enough to put DragonSpeed sixth by the end of the test, while the No. 21 Oreca was the only other car to break the 1-minute 39s barrier.

Will Stevens registered a 1:39.105 in the No. 31 Panis Racing Oreca, narrowly putting the Englishman ahead of his FIA World Endurance Championship co-driver Gabriel Aubry and Loic Duval in the two Algarve Pro Racing 07 Gibsons.

In LMP3, former FIA Formula 3 driver Niko Kari led the way with a time of 1:47.957 in the No. 11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P320 Nissan that was set on Wednesday afternoon.

The Finn’s effort surpassed the previous best from the morning which came from United Autosports’ Wayne Boyd.

Fellow United driver Duncan Tappy lapped third-quickest on a good day for the British squad, while Realteam Racing Ligier driver David Droux was fourth in the standings.

The best lap from a Duqueine D08 Nissan came courtesy of Nielsen Racing’s Colin Noble who clocked in at 1:49.046 on Wednesday afternoon to go seventh-fastest behind Vincent Capillaire from Graff and Nigel Moore from Inter Europol Competition.

Fastest over the two days in the GTE class was GT3 regular Alessio Picariello in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

The GTE debutant laid down a time of 1:52.099 which was just enough to displace Tuesday pace-setter Andrea Piccini from the spot by 0.046 seconds.

Less than half a second off the class pace were fellow Ferrari 488 GTE Evo drivers Nicola Cadei and Michelle Gatting, while Felipe Fernandez Laser completed the top five in the No. 93 Proton Porsche.

Star actor Michael Fassbender, who is sharing the Proton car with Laser and Richard Lietz this year, completed 60 laps in the test as he prepared for his GTE race debut.

The Paul Dalla Lana-entered Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which usually competes in the WEC, was the sixth-fastest car in the hands of Ross Gunn.

RESULTS (Wednesday): Morning / Afternoon

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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