Mathias Beche put TDS Racing on pole position for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, the opening round of the European Le Mans Series.
Beche posted a time of 1:43:038 in the No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson to be the fastest of the 17 cars.
It marks a notable pole position for the French team, which is returning to the series under its own name for the first time since 2018, although it previously operated entries for G-Drive Racing and Realteam Racing.
Beche led the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca by 0.153 seconds, but was helped by a late red flag.
The stoppage was caused by David Droux’s No. 40 Graff Oreca stalling on track.
The red flag prevented Racing Team Turkey’s Jack Aitken from making a run for pole as the session was stopped as the former Grand Prix driver was closing in on a significant improvement in the No.34 Oreca.
He dropped the red prototype fourth overall, behind the No. 9 Prema car driven by Louis Deletraz.
Nicolas Jamin was fifth for Panis Racing, ahead of Nielsen Racing’s Ben Hanley, AF Corse’s Nicklas Nielsen and IDEC Sport’s Patrick Pilet.
Fabio Scherer was ninth for Inter Europol Competitition, while the top ten was completed by Algarve Pro Racing’s No. 45 Oreca driven by series newcomer Bent Viscaal.
The second Algarve Pro car, driven by James Allen, failed to set a time in the ten-minute session, as did the No. 37 Cool Racing Oreca of Yifei Ye.
Ye had an early steering wheel eliminated for track limits, but had failed to set a new fastest lap when Droux’s stop caused a premature end to the session.
While the French squad suffered misfortunes in the LMP2 session, Malthe Jakobsen took pole position in the LMP3 class.
The young Dane jumped out to the top spot aboard the No.17 Nissan Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 with a time of 1:49:390, before improving his own fastest lap to end the session with a time of 1:49:008.
That was enough to hold off the No. 5 RLR MSport Ligier of Alex Kapadia, who took second at the flag but fell 0.339s behind Jakobsen.
The second Cool Racing Ligier, driven by Antoine Doquon, took third ahead of the lone Duqueine D08 Nissan driven by DKR Engineering’s Sebastian Alvarez in fourth.
Finn Gehrsitz rounded out the top five for United Autosports.
Memo Gidley took pole position in the GTE class, beating Ahmad al Harthy and Sarah Bovy to take the top spot.
The American driver posted a best lap of 1:54:755 at the wheel of Rinaldi Racing’s No. 32 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, securing the first ELMS pole position for both team and driver.
Gidley jumped to the top of the timesheets in the closing minutes of the session, beating Al Harthy’s previous best effort of 1:55:008.
The Oman Racing by TF Sport driver improved to 1:54:909 afterwards, but it wasn’t enough to beat Gidley to first place.
Iron Dames’ Sarah Bovy made a late upgrade aboard the No. 83 Ferrari to take third, ahead of the Proton Competition Porsche duo of Christian Ried and Michael Fassbender.
Andrew Haryanto was sixth for Absolute Racing, ahead of JMW Motorsport’s Giacomo Petrobelli and Christian Hook in the second Rinaldi Ferrari.
Takeshi Kimura took ninth place in the No. 74 Kessel Racing Ferrari in Car Guy livery, with Duncan Cameron rounding out the top ten for Spirit of Race.
The 4 Hours of Le Castellet starts on Sunday at 11:00 local time.