Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
ELMS - 20/10/2017 - Jeff CARTER
Nico Lapierre was the quickest of the three drivers in the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca with a 1m34.182 lap, 0.240 seconds ahead of the no23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Nathanael Berthon. The no27 SMP Racing Dallara was third quickest with Matevos Isaakyan 0.760s behind the lead car with a 1m34.942 lap of the Portimão circuit.
While the top three runners are battling for race honours this weekend, all eyes are on the two contenders for the 2017 Team and Driver titles. The championship leading no22 G-Drive Racing Oreca was 4th fastest after the first 90-minute free practice session with Ryo Hirakawa setting a 1m35.897 lap.
Their only rivals for the two titles, the no32 United Autosports Ligier-Gibson struggled in Free Practice and could only manage the 10th fastest time of the session with Filipe Albuquerque posting a 1m36.810 lap, nearly a second behind their championship rivals.
Round 5 winners, AT Racing, set the pace in the LMP3 category with Mikkel Jensen setting a 1m40.758 in the Ligier-Nissan. The Dane’s time was seven tenths ahead of the no18 M.Racing-YMR Ligier with Alexandre Cougnaud posting a 1m41.463.
More importantly the no18 Ligier, which is lying in second place in the championship, was four places ahead of the no2 United Autosports Ligier, with Sean Rayhall setting the best time of 1m42.093 for the championship leaders, 0.6 seconds behind their only rivals for the LMP3 Team and Driver titles.
The LMGTE class was headed by the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Matt Griffin, the Irish driver setting a 1m43.760, 0.6 seconds ahead of the no66 JMW Motorsport F488 and 0.9 seconds ahead of championship leaders TF Sport, with Euan Hankey setting a 1m44.671 in the no90 Aston Martin Vantage.
The second Free Practice session will take place tomorrow morning at 09h50 (local) / 10h50 CET.
CLICK HERE for the results from Free Practice 1
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