Nico Lapierre scored Cool Racing’s first pole position in the ELMS this afternoon in a qualifying session that was red flagged with just seconds to go. Lucas Legeret emerged on top of a very exciting LMP3 session, taking pole in his final lap, while Matteo Cairoli was outstanding in the LMGTE Class.
Nicolas Lapierre gave Cool Racing their first pole position in the European Le Mans Series this afternoon. The Frenchman’s mid session best time of 1.34.967 was enough to start from the lead in tomorrow’s 4 Hours of Monza.
Paul Loup Chatin set the first benchmark with his #28 IDEC Sport Oreca in 1.35.214. 6 minutes into the session Lapierre did his quickest lap of 1.34.967, taking over provisional pole in the Cool Racing Oreca. Chatin wasn’t able to further improve his time, so it was up to Norman Nato in the G-Drive to challenge Lapierre for pole.
With 2,5 minutes left in the session, Norman Nato set a 1.35.213, taking up the second spot on the grid with just 1 thousand of a second. The Frenchman was “en route” for another flyer – and a possible pole position – when Nicolas Jamin went off at Ascari, straight into the safety barriers. The session was almost immediately red flagged, denying Nato to finish his second flyer and his chance for a third flying lap. Jamin did get out of his #30 Oreca, but the car seems to be heavily damaged in the front, giving the mechanics perhabs an overnight job to get it race ready tomorrow.
An all French top 3 then, with the Oreca’s dominating again up to P8 in qualifying with all cars within one second. Filipe Albuquerque was ninth fastest in the #22 United Autosports Ligier (1.35.984), after locking up at the brake zone of the second chicane early in the session. The Portuguese only setting his best time just before the red flag was being waived. Alex Brundle in the second United Autosports Ligier will start next to Albuquerque on the fifth row of the grid. Both Dallara’s follow further down the order with the #45 Carlin in P11 and the #47 Cetilar Racing in P15.
All cars made it out for qualifying, including the #34 Inter Europol Competition which had a big crash this morning in the Parabolica.
It was obvious after both practice sessions that the Norma’s would be on top to fight for pole position this afternoon, but no one expected such a tantalizing 10 minutes of qualifying. All five Norma drivers had claimed provisional pole at a certain time, but in the end it was Lucas Légeret in the #19 M.Racing Norma who took pole position with a gap of 0.207 seconds over Colin Noble in the #7 Nielsen Racing.
Noble looked set for pole position when Légeret saw his penultimate lap deleted due to track limits. The Swiss youngster who turned 18 yesterday didn’t seem to care and squeezed out an impressive 1.44.017 out of his Norma in the dying minutes of the session, scoring his second pole position in the series after Portimao last year and an improvement of yesterday’s lap record with almost 0.9 seconds.
Damiano Fioravanti was third fastest in the #10 Oregon Team Norma (1.44.377), followed by Le Castellet winner Matthieu Lahaye in the #17 Ultimate and David Droux in the #9 Realteam Racing.
Wayne Boyd in the #2 United Autosports Ligier was the quickest non-Norma driver in P6. 2 cars didn’t make it out on track during qualifying: the #11 Eurointernational and the #5 360 Racing Ligiers.
Matteo Cairoli was unbeatable in the LMGTE class, taking pole position 0.4 seconds clear from the rest of the field in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche with a time of 1.46.351. “I’m over the moon with pole position on my home track said the Italian who lives nearby in Como. My first lap wasn’t that good, but I got 2 clear laps after that, enough to take pole position. We’re ready to finish the job tomorrow” said a very happy Matteo Cairoli straight after qualifying.
Jörg Bergmeister was the only driver who found a pace within a second from Cairoli, but his best lap of 1.46.773 was still 0.422 seconds off pace. The second row of the grid will be reserved for the Ferrari’s of Spirit of Race (#55, Matt Griffin in 1.47.395) and Kessel Racing (#60, Andrea Piccini in 1.47.468). The #80 Ebimotors Porsche of Fabio Babini will start from fifth position.