In three dramatic qualifying sessions for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, Round 1 of the 2018 European Le Mans Series, the pole positions for tomorrow’s race were decided in the final few minutes with pole in LMGTE for Proton Competition and debut ELMS poles for IDEC Sport and M Racing-YMR.
Paul Loup Chatin secured the first pole position for IDEC Sport in a red flag interrupted qualifying for LMP2. The no22 United Autosports Ligier of Bruno Senna had a problem on the opening lap, which saw the Brazilian grind to a halt at the end of the Mistral Straight. Only three drivers had set a flying lap before the session was halted.
When the LMP2 qualifying resumed there was less than six minutes on the clock and there was a mad dash to set a time. 2014 ELMS Champion Chatin posted a 1m41.194 lap in the no28 Oreca07-Gibson with just two minutes on the clock to claim his first ELMS pole since Red Bull Ring 2016 and the first for IDEC Sport.
The no33 TDS Racing Oreca-Gibson of Matthieu Vaxivière was second fastest, the French driver setting a 1m41.638 lap, 0.444s behind Chatin and 0.266s ahead of the no21 DragonSpeed Oreca of Ben Hanley.
The LMP3 category was headed by the no19 M Racing-YMR Norma-Nissan of David Droux, the Swiss driver claiming a debut pole for himself and the team on the very last flying lap after the chequered flag had dropped.
The no17 Ultimate Norma M30 of Matthieu Lahaye was classified second with a 1m51.991 after the 1m51.975 lap set by the no15 RLR MSport Ligier of Job Van Uitert was deleted after the Dutchman ran outside the track limits. Van Uitert’s previous lap of 1m52.108 was good enough for fourth 0.004s behind the no8 DKR Engineering Norma of Alex Toril.
It was a Porsche 1-2 in the LMGTE class, continuing the pace set in Free Practice and the Official Test. Matteo Cairoli was the quickest of the GTE runners, setting a 1m53.377 lap in the no88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, two tenths ahead of Ben Barker in the no86 Gulf Racing 911.
Reigning champions JMW Motorsport will start from third on the LMGTE grid thanks to Miguel Molina’s 1m54.562 lap of the 5.8km Circuit Paul Ricard in the no66 Ferrari F488 GTE.
Source: ELMS Media Release