On a dry track and under sunny skies the 39 competitors took part in the final qualifying session for the 2018 European Le Mans Series.
The no29 Duqueine Engineering Oreca will start the 4 Hours of Portimão at the head of the field after Nicolas Jamin posted the fastest lap in LMP2 qualifying as the French driver took the chequered flag.
With less than a minute left on the clock it looked like Filipe Albuquerque was going to take the pole position for his home race, but the Portuguese driver’s 1m33.363 lap was surpassed by the no23 Panis Barthez Competition Oreca of Will Stevens.
The English driver lapped in 1m33.257 at the chequered flag but his joy was short lived as Jamin crossed the line in 1m33.197, just six hundredths quicker.
The no19 M Racing YMR Norma-Nissan stormed to a second pole of the 2018 season but it was a debut ELMS pole for 17-year-old Lucas Légeret after the Swiss driver posted a 1m40.776 lap, just 0.061 seconds ahead of the no17 Ultimate Norma of Mathieu Lahaye.
The session was interrupted by a red flag with 3 minutes 21 seconds of the 10 minute session left on the clock after the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Giorgio Mondini spun off into the gravel at Turn 5.
The session resumed but the positions didn’t change by the chequered flag.
The championship leading no15 RLR M Sport Ligier of Job Van Uitert qualified in 7th place, with their two nearest rivals, the no6 360 Racing and no3 United Autosports Ligiers, qualifying in 10th and 15th respectively.
The no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Miguel Molina will start the 4 Hours of Portimão at the head of the six car LMGTE field for the second time in 2018 and, possibly more importantly, ahead of the championship leading no88 Proton Competition Porsche 911. The extra point for pole means the gap in the championship is now just 10.5 points between the no88 Porsche and the no66 Ferrari.
Molina took the pole with a 1m42.765 lap just as the chequered flag was shown to end the ten-minute session. The Spaniard pushed the no77 Proton Competition Porsche of Denis Olsen off the top spot by three tenths of a second, with the no88 Porsche of Matteo Cairoli in third. The Italian had gone fastest on the previous lap but the time was disallowed after Cairoli’s Porsche went beyond the track limits at T15.