Porsche goes 1-2-3 in qualifying for the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid will start the Le Mans 24 Hours on pole position. Neel Jani’s time of 3m16.887s, set on Wednesday evening, stood until the end of the final qualifying session and was never seriously threatened.
The German manufacturer annexed the top three positions on the starting grid with the No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Webber/Hartley/Bernard in second place and the No.19 example of Tandy/Bamber and Hulkenberg third.
First Porsche pole in 27 years
It was the first pole position for a works Porsche team at Le Mans since 1988 when Hans-Joachim Stuck (who was present at the track today) claimed top spot in the Shell liveried Porsche 962. Jani’s fastest lap also saw Porsche extend its run of WEC poles to six
“It feels good, very good,” Jani told Motorsport.com after the final session. “The team have done a brilliant job with giving us a phenomenal car for qualifying. Now though we look to the race which is the most important thing. This pole will feel great for a few hours but the important work starts now for the race on Saturday.”
Jani even had time to register the No.18 Porsches best lap of the day – a 3m21.119s in the dying moments of the last session, emphasising Porsches superiority over the last two days of track action.
Audi takes positions 4, 5 and 6
With the teams concentrating on long runs and evaluating fuel and tyre usage, combined with less favourable ambient and track conditions, any challenge to usurp the all-conquering Porsches was never a prospect for Audi.
However, the average times from the longer stints indicate that Audi will run Porsche close in race spec. The defending Le Mans champions tried a variety of aero set-ups in readiness for the race and on a few occasions, when running close to the Porsches on track, the R18 e-tron quattros appeared to be quicker through the slower and medium speed corners. The much talked about battle royal between the two VW Group brands looks like it will ebb and flow throughout the 24 Hours.
The No.8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Di Grassi/Duval and Jarvis starts in fourth place after Duval’s time of 3m19.866s from yesterday remained the best effort from an Audi Sport Team Joest entry.
The only significant change from yesterday’s first qualifying results came when Andre Lotterer improved in the No.7 Audi. The German took 1.3s off yesterday’s time and vaulted the No.9 example which also improved its time today but by just 0.084s.
Toyota continued to try and claw back some of the pace deficit this evening but concentrated on perfecting race strategies to try and get closer to their direct LMP1 rivals. The No.2 Toyota TS 040 HYBRID of Sarrazin/Wurz and Conway remained ahead of defending WEC champions – Davidson/Buemi and Nakajima in the No.1 car.
Rebellion tops Nissan
Rebellion Racing rounded out the top ten with its new AER-turbo powered R-One chassis’. ‘Dodo’ Kraihamer recovered from his qualifying two spin in the No.13 car to join the sister Anglo/Swiss racer in the sub 3m30s bracket, with a 3m28.930s.
Nissan made some progress during the final session with both the No.21 and No.23 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO moving up the order. Jann Mardenborough set a 3m37.291s to initially place 12th overall, while Lucas Ordonez gave the No.21 crew a much needed boost by moving up to 15th place. The No.22 car, driven by Harry Tincknell, had a late charge to move ahead of the sister No.23 car to take over 12th position.
KCMG takes LMP2 pole
KCMG celebrated pole position in the LMP2 category despite missing a large chunk of the second and third qualifying sessions after a damper breakage stopped the car after Mulsanne Corner. The team repaired the ORECA 05 and Nicolas Lapierre returned to the fray to work on further race set-up. Richard Bradley’s pace yesterday was enough to guarantee pole by almost a second.
The big change in the make-up of the LMP2 grid came in the first hour of the final two-hour qualifying session when Sam Bird stopped the clocks on a 3m38.939 to move up from fourth place to second. Bird shares the G-Drive Ligier-Nissan with Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal.
The two Gibson 015S entries from Greaves Motorsport and JOTA Sport form the second row of the LMP2 grid, while the Signatech Alpine A450b-Nissan starts fifth.
Imola ELMS winners Thiriet by TDS lost most of the qualifying session tonight after stopping on the Mulsanne Straight with an unspecified mechanical problem. The Gommendy/Thiriet and Badey crewed car will start sixth on the LMP2 grid.
Aston sweeps GTE classes
There were no changes at the top of the LMGTE classes today with the No.99 and No.98 Aston Martin securing pole respectively.
Richie Stanaway’s 3m54.928s from Wednesday’s qualifying session was threatened by the No.51 reigning WEC champion AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Gimmi Bruni/Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella which came within 0.097s of the Kiwi’s best time.
Aston Martin had a double LMGTE pole celebration as the No.98 Vantage V8 will start from the front of the 14 car field. Pedro Lamy’s 3m55.102s lap stood throughout the four hours of today’s running and was never seriously threatened.
Two Ferraris line up behind the Aston Martin. The No.83 AF Corse Collard/Perrodo/Aguas starts second, ahead of the SMP Racing Ferrari which improved its time today with factory Ferrari ace Andrea Bertolini taking four tenths of a second off its previous best.
Jan Magnussen returned to his team pit box after being checked out at the circuit medical centre after his accident in qualifying two. The Chevrolet Corvette team and Magnussen were going through data to try and ascertain what the cause of the incident was and also to begin repairs on the No.63 C7R, which was heavily damaged in the incident.
Other excursions in the session included a dramatic fire for the AAI Porsche 911 of Alex Kapadia on the Mulsanne Straight and a high speed spin in to the Indianapolis gravel for Olivier Beretta in the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari.
Marco Sorensen crashed the No.95 Aston Martin in the final moments of tonight’s session, damaging the rear after a high speed spin across the gravel at the Esses after the Dunlop Chicane.
The 83rd Le Mans 24 hours starts at 15.00 local time on Saturday afternoon.
|Cla||No.||Driver||Car / Engine||Time||Delay||Laps||km/h|
|4||8||Lucas di Grassi
|36||98||Paul Dalla Lana
|55||68||Han Chen Chen
|56||67||Jun San Chen