Pla/Beaubelique lead Akkodis ASP lockout in FP1 at Circuit Paul Ricard

Pla/Beaubelique lead Akkodis ASP lockout in FP1 at Circuit Paul Ricard

Simon Gachet and Eric Debard looked to have top spot secured thanks to a superb 1m14.2s effort at two-thirds distance, but Jim Pla/Jean Luc Beaubelique once again timed a late charge to perfection to lower the benchmark on Pla’s final flying lap.

The session began on a damp-but-drying track following persistent morning rain, meaning the times continued to fall until well into the midway point, when all teams had finally stopped to shed their wet-weather tyres in favour of Pirelli slicks.

Several cars took turns to lead the order until the Pro drivers took over from their amateur counterparts to set up a tense end to the session when the track was at its fastest.

Gachet was the first to dip into the low 22s bracket, with Alex Fontana coming within 0.051s in the Centri Porsche Ticino Cayman he shares with Ivan Jacoma to run second. Things looked settled until Pla found some space and managed to carve 0.173s off Gachet’s time as the flag fell.

Tom Canning also left it late to establish Racing Spirit of Léman’s #19 Aston Martin AMR Vantage at the top of the Silver Cup order. The Briton’s best effort came on his penultimate lap and was enough to top the class and secure fourth overall in the car he shares with Akhil Rabindra. A late improvement from championship leaders Konstantin Lachenauer and Gus Bowers made it a Racing Spirit of Léman one-two in the class. 

Saintéloc Racing’s new entry of Adrien Tambay/Gregory Faessel Curson figured strongly in the #27 Audi R8 LMS, finishing sixth fastest overall, having led the session at the midway point thanks to Tambay’s best. Hendrik Still/Max Kronberg were seventh in the #38 W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman, ahead of Lluc Ibañez and Enzo Joulié in the #15 NM Racing Team Mercedes-AMG that finished as the third-fastest Silver Cup runner.

In the Am class, Wilfried Cazalbon and Julien Lambert grabbed the top time. Aleksandr Vaintrub had led the early stages in the #88 NM Racing Team Mercedes-AMG before Thomas Martinez put the #63 Arkadia Racing Alpine he shares with Pierre-Laurent Figuiere out front. But as things dried up nobody would better the Cazalbon/Lambert AGS Events Aston Martin. Vaintrub/Stanislav Safronov were second ahead of class championship leaders Christophe Hamon/Michael Blanchemain, who recovered from an early right-rear puncture on their Team Fullmotorsport Audi to round out the top three.