Image credit: SportsCarGlobal / Red Firecracker.
Qualifying kicked off Sunday morning under pleasant, windless conditions so hopes were high for faster times. JOTA Sport’s Harry Tincknell took overall honours and an additional point for Pole Position with a flying 1:46.917 in the Gibson 015S setting not only the fastest time but what is, we believe, a new record for the Paul Ricard track in an ELMS car. However, it took approx. 20 mins to confirm Tincknell’s time after a message from race control stated that two of his laps, including the pole time, were under investigation by the Race Director.
“This is probably the Gibson’s toughest track of the season, low-downforce tracks generally don’t play to your strengths as much as the higher-downforce tracks, so to get the extra point for pole is vital for the championship and obviously the best place to start this afternoon”, said Tincknell in the post-race conference.
Second place on the grid goes to AF Racing’s #20 BR01 Nissan with Aleshin just 0.15s behind Tincknell followed by the sister #21 car driven by Nicolas Minassian, half a second behind at 1:47.498.
The LMP3 grid was again dominated by Team LNT with Charlie Robertson taking his third pole position of the series, putting in a time of 1:55.431. Mike Simpson took second in the #3 LNT Ginetta Nissan trailing his team-mate by 0.2s (1:55.636). Third sport is filled by SVK by Speed Factory clocking in around a second behind at 1:56.731.
Moving on to the LMGTE class, the top three positions were dominated by Ferrari F458 Italias. AT Racing took pole position with Pier Guidi setting a 1:55.782. AF Corse’s #51 was 0.05s behind putting in a 1:55.818 and finally Formula Racing will start third clocking in a 1:56.021 in the #60 car. What looked to be a promising start for the BMW Team MarcVDS team ended when the BMW Z4 GTE appeared to ‘boil’ it’s brakes leading to a very upset Andy Priaulx and last place in the class 1.7s behind the pole sitter.
In GTC however, BMW had some consolation with TDS Racing’s Franck Perera peddling the BMW Z4 GTE to pole with an impressive 1:58.396, holding off an attack from a wave of AF Corse Ferrari F458 GT3s who took the next three grid positions; #62 setting a time of 1:58.442 followed by #63 & #64 setting times of 1:58.732 and 2:04.143 respectively.