Berthon On Pole For ELMS Decider: Watch LIVE!
The Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Nathanaël Berthon will start from pole position for the final round of the 2017 ELMS. Mikkel Jensen took the LMP3 pole for AT Racing and Matt Griffin took the LMGTE pole for an important extra point in the race for the LMGTE title.
The LMP2 session saw a red flag halt proceeding before the first lap times were posted when the no25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier of Andrea Pizzitola went off into the gravel trap at the final corner. The session resumed with 7 minutes on the clock once the Ligier was recovered back to the pits.
The no22 G-Drive Racing Oreca of Ryo Hirakawa set the early pace with a 1m34.235 but was soon surpassed by the no23 Panis Barthez Ligier when Berthon set a 1m33.575. Nico Lapierre in the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca recovered from a spin at T14 to post a 1m34.090 to join the pole sitter on the front row and push the championship leaders onto row 2 for tomorrows 4 Hours of Portimão,
The only rivals for the no22 G-Drive Oreca for the 2017 ELMS titles is the no32 United Autosports Ligier. Filipe Albuquerque posted a 1m34.551, good enough for 5th on the grid behind the no39 Graff Oreca-Gibson of Enzo Guibbert.
LMP3: Third Pole for AT Racing
The LMP3 class also suffered interruptions from red flags with two incidents involving the no10 Oregon Team Ligier of Dario Capitano and the no7 Duqueine Engineering Ligier of Antonin Borga.
The session resumed after the second red flag with only four cars with fast laps and three minutes on the clock. The championship leading no2 United Autosports Ligier of Sean Rayhall went to the top of the times briefing as the chequered flag fell but the American had been judged to have exceeded the track limits at T1 and his time was deleted.
Rayhall’s teammate Wayne Boyd in the no3 Ligier looked to heading for the pole position but Mikkel Jensen took his third pole of the season in the no9 AT Racing Ligier on his very last lap with a 1m40.660 lap, 0.164s ahead of Boyd’s United Autosports Ligier.
While championship leader Rayhall was classified in 14th in class, the only rival for the 2017 LMP3 title was the no18 M.Racing YMR Ligier of Alexandre Cougnaud, the French driver finishing the session in 4th place with a 1m41.343 and will join the no16 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier on the second row.
LMGTE: Ferrari 1-2 in Portimão
The six cars on the LMGTE grid got a clean, uninterrupted qualifying session and the no77 Proton Competition Porsche of Matteo Cairoli was the first car to set the pace, the Italian making a bid for pole with a 1m43.370 lap before heading to the pits to see if anyone else could go faster.
As the session entered the final couple of minutes it was the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Matt Griffin who went faster after stopping for fresh Dunlop tyres and then went even quicker with a 1m42.657 lap right at the chequered flag.
The no66 JMW Motorsport F488 of Will Stevens also made a last gasp bid but was only able to grab a 1m43.297 lap, which was good enough for second place but 0.640s behind the lead car.
The grid is now set for the final race of the 2017 season, the 4 Hours of Portimão, which will get underway at 13h00 local / 14h00 CET (11:00PM AEDT) on Sunday 22 October.