Photo Above: Europeanlemansseries.com
The European Le Mans Series field gathered at Autodromo Nazionale Monza over March 28 – 29 for the Official Test Session ahead of the opening round of the 2017 season at Silverstone on April 15.
41 cars gathered at the iconic Italian circuit, comprising 13 LMP2 entrants, 21 LMP3 cars and seven from the LMGTE class.
The two-day test was divided into five separate sessions. Tuesday March 28 saw three sessions – two three-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by a two-hour night session at 19:00 local time.
Wednesday saw the cars out on the track for two further three-hour sessions, again one a.m. and one p.m. session.
In LMP2, Graff topped the timesheets in three out of the five sessions with the #40 Graff ORECA 07 quickest in the second and third session. It was, however, the #28 IDEC SPORT RACING Ligier JSP2-17, driven by Patrice and Paul Lafargue, Olivier Pla and David Zollinger which put in the fastest time for the LMP2 class over the two-day test with a 1:36.461 set on the morning of the second day with Patrice Lafarge at wheel.
In LMP3 four teams shared the top spots over the five sessions. The #9 AT Racing Ligier JS P3, with the driver line-up of Alexander Talkanitsa Sr and Jr and Mikkel Jensen was quickest in sessions one and three but it was the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 which set the quickest time in the class over the course of the two days with a 1:45.219 on the morning of the second day. John Falb and Sean Rayhall were sharing the driving duties of the #2 entry and it was Rayhall who set the time on his 30th lap our of 32.
The LMGTE field made up in quality what it may have lacked in numbers with seven entries declared for the full season.
2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup victors TF Sport, with the driver line-up of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey, Nicki Thiim and Robert Bell, topped the time sheets in two out of five of the sessions, setting the quickest time of the LMGTE class with a 1:48.720 during the first session with Yoluc at the wheel.
2016 European Le Mans Series LMGTE champions Beechdean AMR laid down a marker, however, and were quickest in two sessions, being the only class runners in the evening session at the end of the first day. Aston Martin works-driver Darren Turner in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage, sharing the driving duties with Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn, put in a 1:49.885 in the cool, night air.
The focus will now turn to the 4 Hours of Silverstone on April 15 for the first round of the 2017 season. 2016 was a classic year for the Series. 2017 promises to be even better.