The Porsche 919 Hybrid of Marc Lieb and Neel Jani today claimed for the Porsche Team its first pole position in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Anyone watching the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes on track this evening might have thought they had confused their days and they were witnessing the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps race itself. The six LMP1-H prototypes representing the Audi, Porsche and Toyota manufacturers put on a tremendous display of driving – all going flat out from start to finish as track conditions changed from damp to a dry line.
The No.14’s pole position time of 2:01.198 represented the average of the best times set by first Lieb, then Jani and then – in a change from the usual format due to the changing conditions – Lieb again. All the leading contenders stopped two or three times in order to allow their starting drivers a further chance to better their lap times (now on slick tyres instead of intermediates), and therefore bring down the averages. The final order wasn’t known until the chequered flag had fallen, as the last of the day’s light was falling away, and Lieb claimed pole position with a stunning final flying lap.
Alongside him on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s race will be the No.8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson, the Silverstone race-winning duo posting an average time of 2:01.836. Third in the LMP1-H category was the No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler.
The Swiss Rebellion Racing team made a massive effort to get both the brand-new Rebellion R-One Toyotas out in qualifying, the team having worked tirelessly all day on the No.13 as it was suffering from a chronic electronics. The No.12 of Mathias Beche and Nicolas Prost completed 12 laps in qualifying and were one of the few teams to only make one pit stop. Unfortunately the No.13 proved to still be recalcitrant, and Dominik Kraihamer and Fabio Leimer were held back by further technical issues.
The only LMP2 car not to take part in the qualifying session was the accident-damaged No.37 SMP Racing entry which will be repaired overnight and start from the back of the grid.
The 28 cars on the entry list for WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will be back on track for the race tomorrow, with a start time of 14h30 CET.
World Endurance Championship (WEC)