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24.09.2011

Free Practice and Qualifying report

Alex Kapadia, Radical Masters champion, started the first free practice session on Friday afternoon and immediately showed fast pace despite it being his first outing in the Oreca FLM09. About half way through, Tor Graves, already with some experience in the prototype after driving in a winter series last year, shone all the way through the session, going faster than Alex with a time of 1min39.5secs; a tenth of a second behind opposing team Pegasus Racing.

Later in the day, the second practice session was held and Tor was first out in the car. Unfortunately, with only 15 minutes gone, he swiped a barrier after sliding off, so the Formula Le Mans returned to the pits for repairs. Thankfully the damage was only cosmetic, meaning body panels just had to be replaced. Seventeen minutes of the session remaining, a red flag was shown and so the Team were granted more time to prepare the car. A short while passed, before the circuit was re-opened and Alex took to the track to complete one flying lap; before John Hartshorne stepped in for his first time in Portugal.

Early on Saturday morning, Tor Graves again started in the car for the last practice session of the Le Mans Series 2011 championship. He produced several quick lap times before handing the prototype over to John Hartshorne. With few minutes left, John was happy with the car and came in to let Alex Kapadia finish off the session; who put in a competitive time of 1min37.2secs, placing the Team 2nd fastest.

Qualifying arrived quickly; the decision of the Team was for Alex to run in the Oreca FLM09 for the all-important session. It was on lap 3 that he completed the fastest time, a 1min36.04secs – more than a second faster than any other time he’d set – which pleasingly put the car on pole position by a good margin. Everyone was delighted; Neil Garner commented: “We are in the best position for tomorrow’s race, it’s the last one of the season and all the teams are aiming for a win. The weekend has started well for us, so let’s hope our current performance will carry us to a win tomorrow!”

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