The ELMS Is Back LIVE from Paul Ricard

Reigning champions G-Drive Racing got their title defence off to the best start with the first championship point of the 2019 European Le Mans Series. Norman Nato put the Aurus 01-Gibson on pole position by just 25 thousandths of a second as the chequered flag was waved to deny Paul Loup Chatin in the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07-Gibson.

There were plenty of challengers for the first pole of the season, with the no21 DragonSpeed Oreca of Ben Hanley and the no37 Cool Racing Oreca of Nico Lapierre leading the charge. However it was Chatin who held the top position for almost the whole session only to be denied by Nato in the last few seconds.

The no27 IDEC Sport Ligier didn’t take part due to a gearbox problem in FP2 that the team were unable to fix in time for qualifying.

The LMP3 pole position was taken by the no10 Oregon Team Norma, the first time the Italian team has taken an ELMS pole. Damiano Fioravanti once again was the fastest P3 driver with a final lap of 1m49.686, 0.128s ahead of Matthieu Lahaye in the no17 Ultimate Norma M30.

There was a multi car battle for the LMP3 pole throughout the 10 minute session, with the no7 Nielsen Racing Norma of Colin Noble, the no2 United Autosports Ligier of Wayne Boyd and the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Mikkel Jensen all briefly holding the top spot before Lahaye and then Fioravanti went quicker in the final lap.

The LMGTE qualifying was also full of drama as Matteo Cairoli put the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR on pole with a last gasp dive for the line after the team fitted new tyres mid-session. Cairoli’s last lap was good enough to deny Alessandro Pier Guidi in the no51 Luzich Racing Ferrari F488 by 0.273s.

Up to the last minute of qualifying Pier Guidi had been leading the no88 Proton Racing Porsche of Thomas Peining and Cairoli in third, with all three drivers split by just 0.079s. However Cairoli posted a 1m52.499 at the chequered flag to leap to the top of the LMGTE timing screen. The two Kessel Racing Ferraris were 4th and 5th, with Andrea Piccini in the no60 F488 just 0.090s ahead teammate Michelle Gatting in the no83 Ferrari at the chequered flag.

Source: European Le Mans Media