Spa WEC: Porsche dominates to lock out front row

Porsche secured its first pole position of the 2016 World Endurance Championship season as Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took the top spot in qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa.

Spa WEC: Porsche dominates to lock out front row
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
#5 Toyota Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#12 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-One AER: Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet Jr.
#26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 - Nissan: Roman Rusinov, Nathanael Berthon, René Rast
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK Ford GT: Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell
#95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Marco Sorensen, Darren Turner, Nicki Thiim

Having led Friday morning's third practice by a comfortable margin, the #1 car ended the session with a clear advantage of nearly eight tenths over the sister #2 919 Hybrid.

Hartley began the session by setting a blistering time of 1m55.691s, 0.8s up on what Bernhard had managed in FP3, before the German took the reins after a brief red flag period and posted a 1m55.895s.

That gave the duo, who share the #1 car with Mark Webber, a combined average of 1m55.793s, 0.797s up on the #2 car of Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Toyota and Audi both lagged some way off the pace of Porsche, but engaged in their own close battle for best of the rest honours, the Japanese marque just coming out on top.

The #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro had held the advantage after the first runs, courtesy of a 1m57.422s from Oliver Jarvis, but Loic Duval was eight tenths off his teammate's pace, not helped by an apparent mechanical problem that forced the car to limp back to the pits.

That allowed the #6 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi and Stephane Sarrazin, who set the car's best time of 1m57.619s, to sneak ahead by a scant 0.018s on average times - albeit 1.905s shy of the #1 Porsche.

The #5 Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima was fifth, just half a tenth back, with the #7 Audi completing the hybrid grid, just over two seconds adrift of the pace.

Among the LMP1 privateers, it was the #13 Rebellion R-One that took the top spot ahead of the #12 entry, both well clear of the #4 ByKolles - which caused the delay to the session when it shed some rear bodywork at Eau Rouge.

LMP2 class pole fell to the #26 G-Drive Oreca of Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov, whose combined efforts put the car half a second ahead of the #36 Signatech Alpine.

Manor qualified its two Orecas third and fifth in class, Roberto Merhi leading the class after an impressive first run in the #45 car, split by the #38 G-Drive Gibson after Giedo van der Garde's effort in the second runs.

Ferrari sweeps front row in GTE

In GTE-Pro, the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird took pole position for the second race on the trot, both drivers recording near-identical times.

Rigon led the first part of the session with a 2m17.632s, with Bird keeping the team clear of the opposition with a time only 0.025s slower for an average of 2m17.644s.

That was 0.317s better than the combined efforts of James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni in the #51 car, which went second fastest to complete an all-Ferrari class front row.

The #97 Aston Martin of Fernando Rees and Richie Stanaway was third, just 0.026s behind the #51 car, ahead of the two Ford GTs, which both qualified within a second of the #71 Ferrari.

Aston Martin took a comfortable pole in the Am class, as Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana collectively went 1.8s clear of their nearest challenger, the #83 AF Corse Ferrari.

Qualifying results:

AustraliaMark Webber 
New ZealandBrendon Hartley 
GermanyTimo Bernhard 
Porsche 919 Hybrid '16  1:55.793 
GermanyMarc Lieb 
FranceRomain Dumas 
SwitzerlandNeel Jani 
Porsche 919 Hybrid '16  1:56.590 
JapanKamui Kobayashi 
United KingdomMike Conway 
FranceStéphane Sarrazin 
Toyota TS050 HYBRID  1:57.698 
FranceLoic Duval 
United KingdomOliver Jarvis 
BrazilLucas di Grassi 
Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro '16  1:57.716 
United KingdomAnthony Davidson 
JapanKazuki Nakajima 
SwitzerlandSébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 HYBRID  1:57.750 
GermanyAndre Lotterer 
FranceBenoit Tréluyer 
SwitzerlandMarcel Fassler 
Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro '16  1:57.915 
SwitzerlandAlexandre Imperatori 
SwitzerlandMatheo Tuscher 
AustriaDominik Kraihamer 
Rebellion R-One  2:01.547 
BrazilNelson Piquet Jr. 
GermanyNick Heidfeld 
FranceNicolas Prost 
Rebellion R-One  2:02.126 
United KingdomJames Rossiter 
United KingdomOliver Webb 
SwitzerlandSimon Trummer 
CLM P1/01  2:03.571 
10  RussiaRoman Rusinov 
GermanyRené Rast 
FranceNathanael Berthon 
ORECA 05  2:07.363 
11  FranceNicolas Lapierre 
United StatesGustavo Menezes 
MonacoStéphane Richelmi 
Alpine A460  2:07.822 
12  SpainRoberto Merhi 
United KingdomMatt Rao  
United KingdomRichard Bradley 
ORECA 05  2:08.036 
13  United KingdomSimon Dolan 
NetherlandsGiedo van der Garde 
United KingdomJake Dennis 
Gibson 015S  2:08.557 
14  ThailandTor Graves 
United KingdomWill Stevens 
United KingdomJames Jakes 
ORECA 05  2:08.893 
15  MexicoRicardo Gonzalez 
PortugalFilipe Albuquerque 
BrazilBruno Senna 
Ligier JS P2  2:09.125 
16  RussiaVitaly Petrov 
RussiaKirill Ladygin 
RussiaViktor Shaytar 
BR Engineering BR01  2:09.445 
17  United KingdomRyan Dalziel 
BrazilPipo Derani 
CanadaChris Cumming 
Ligier JS P2  2:09.601 
18  RussiaDevi Markozov  
FranceNicolas Minassian 
ItalyMaurizio Mediani 
BR Engineering BR01  2:09.625 
19  FranceNelson Panciatici 
ChinaHo-Pin Tung 
ChinaDavid Cheng 
Alpine A460  2:10.230 
20  United KingdomJonny Kane 
United KingdomNick Leventis 
United KingdomDanny Watts 
Gibson 015S  2:11.160 
21  United StatesScott Sharp 
United StatesEd Brown 
United StatesJohannes van Overbeek 
Ligier JS P2  2:13.708 
22  ItalyDavide Rigon 
United KingdomSam Bird 
Ferrari 488 GTE  2:17.644 
23  ItalyGianmaria Bruni 
United KingdomJames Calado 
Ferrari 488 GTE  2:17.961 
24  United KingdomJonathan Adam 
New ZealandRichie Stanaway 
BrazilFernando Rees 
Aston Martin Vantage V8  2:17.987 
25  United StatesBilly Johnson 
FranceOlivier Pla 
GermanyStefan Mücke 
Ford GT '16  2:18.380 
26  United KingdomAndy Priaulx 
United KingdomMarino Franchitti 
United KingdomHarry Tincknell 
Ford GT '16  2:18.418 
27  DenmarkNicki Thiim 
DenmarkMarco Sorensen 
United KingdomDarren Turner 
Aston Martin Vantage V8  2:18.739 
28  AustriaRichard Lietz 
DenmarkMichael Christensen 
Porsche 911 RSR  2:20.036 
29  PortugalPedro Lamy 
CanadaPaul Dalla Lana 
AustriaMathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage V8  2:20.351 
30  FranceEmmanuel Collard 
PortugalRui Aguas 
FranceFrançois Perrodo 
Ferrari F458 Italia  2:22.202 
31  United Arab EmiratesKhaled Al Qubaisi 
DenmarkDavid Heinemeier Hansson
United StatesPatrick Long 
Porsche 911 RSR  2:22.215 
32  ItalyPaolo Ruberti 
JapanYutaka Yamagishi 
FrancePierre Ragues 
Chevrolet Corvette C7 GT3  2:22.716 
33  United KingdomMike Wainwright  
United KingdomAdam Carroll 
United KingdomBen Barker 
Porsche 911 RSR  2:22.928 
34  GermanyChristian Ried 
SwitzerlandJoel Camathias 
GermanyWolf Henzler 
Porsche 911 RSR  2:23.316 
Spa WEC: Porsche reasserts its authority in final practice

Previous article

Spa WEC: Porsche reasserts its authority in final practice

Next article

Spa pole-sitter Bernhard shocked by Porsche’s big advantage

Spa pole-sitter Bernhard shocked by Porsche’s big advantage
Load comments
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Prime

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success.

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Prime

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and was considered the heavy favourite to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen.

Le Mans
Aug 15, 2021
Why Jose Maria Lopez isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio Prime

Why Jose Maria Lopez isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio

Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally.

Aug 14, 2021