The overall pole battle between Audi and Toyota ended with both Audi R18s on the front row in Brazil.
The LMP qualifying session for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo was a nail-biting affair with world champions Benoit Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler claiming the top spot for tomorrow’s race, just five hundredths of a second ahead of Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval in the championship leading no2 Audi. Kristensen had a spin towards the end of the session in turn 2 but the Dane kept the car on track and recovered to continue his challenge for Pole.
The nr8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi finished 3rd but with just two tenths of a second off pole, there is definitely all to play for and the Japanese manufacturer will be looking to repeat last year’s success in Brazil which saw them take their first of three wins in the World Endurance Championship.
The sole LMP1 Privateer entry from Rebellion Racing saw Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld finished 2.3 seconds behind the leading Audi but the drivers set a consistent pace during their qualifying runs and the team are confident that they are in a good position to pick up a podium finish should one of the three works cars have a problem.
In LMP2 the nr26 G-Drive Oreca –Nissan of John Martin and Mike Conway took the pole by 0.5 seconds, which, by the class standard, is a significant gap of the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan of Nicolas Minassian and Pierre Kaffer. The Le Mans winning nr35 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan will start tomorrow’s race in 3rd place, the average lap time for two drivers being 0.9 seconds behind the lead car. There was disappointment for the nr25 Delta-ADR Oreca Nissan of Robbie Kerr and James Walker as a puncture in the pits meant the car was stranded and unable to complete the four laps and will have to start at the back of the LMP2 grid.
Three minutes from the end of qualifying the red flags had to be shown when a small hot air balloon, trailing what looked to be a flag, flew in from outside the circuit, coming from the city of Sao Paulo and landed on the track near the finish line. The session was quickly restarted after the track was cleared
Aston and Ferrari on Pole for the LMGTE Pro and Am categories
Olá from the Autodromo Carlos Pace, e bem vindos from the qualifying session for the LMGTE Pro and Am categories. The 25-minute session took place in warm sunshine and ambient temperatures of 27oC and it was a very tight in terms of lap times in both Pro and Am. Just 0.24 seconds separated the top five in the Pro class, while 0.45 seconds split the top five cars in the Am field.
Aston Martin Racing maintained its dominance in Brazil and claimed pole position in the factory-led Pro class, but it didn’t go to the No.97 which has so far led each session here in Sao Paulo. Young New Zealander Richie Stanaway and Portuguese driver Pedro Lamy shook up the order and set a pole position time of 1:33.340 after the two fastest laps of each driver were combined and averaged. It is the first GT pole position for Stanaway.
The No.98 Vantage will have the No.92 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz alongside it on the LMGTE grid, the German duo having an averaged lap time of 1:33.461. The Porsche factory drivers left it late in the session to set their times, and did just enough to clinch second place in class as there is a scant two hundredths of a second separating the Porsche and the third placed No.97, the Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke. Their time of 1:33.483 was a tenth of a second ahead of the fastest of the Ferraris, the No.71 AF Corse entry of Toni Vilander and Kamui Kobayashi.
Ferrari claimed the upper hand in the LMGTE Am category, and it was also a first pole position for the No.61 AF Corse crew of Matt Griffin, Marco Cioci and Jack Gerber. The combined average time of the Italian and Irish drivers was 1:34.577, just one hundredth of a second ahead of the hitherto dominant No.95 Aston Martin Vantage of Thiim-Nygaard-Poulsen. Third in the category was the No.81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 entry of Potolicchio-Aguas-Rigon with a fastest combined lap of 1:34.616.
The next time the cars will be re-assembled on the grid will be for the start of the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, the fourth round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship which begins at 12 noon tomorrow local time.
Post qualifying penalty
An amended grid has been issued due to a ride height infringement for the #61 AF Corse Ferrari, which had set the best time in this afternoon’s qualifying session for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo. The nr95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 is now on class pole for tomorrow’s race