“Our qualification is exactly what I had hoped for so I am very pleased to be third behind the two diesels,” said George Howard-Chappell, Aston Martin Racing team principal. “It was an extremely good lap by Stefan [Mucke] and we have got the car very well set up here which is encouraging for Le Mans in June.”

Starting a scaled-back racing campaign that is unlikely to see the team defend their LMP1 title in the Le Mans Series it was Stefan Mücke, one of the drivers that took them to that accolade, who was tasked with qualifying the Lola-Aston Martin coupe ahead of Sunday's 8 Hours of Le Castellet.

In a marked contrast to the near Arctic conditions that greeted the team last month during the official test at the Southern French circuit the qualifying sessions (20 minutes for the two GT classes, then a separate 20 minutes for the prototype classes, including the AMR team) were conducted under brilliant sunshine.

For much of the relatively short session German Mücke struggled to find a clear piece of the 5.8km circuit amongst the 24 other cars on track including the newly included Formula Le Mans chassis. However, in the closing minutes he burst into space and was able to  record a lap of 1:42.354, only 0.722 behind the diesel-engined cars of the front row.

Mücke will share the car with Harold Primat and Mexican Adrian Fernandez, the latter making a rare racing start in Europe as part of a deal that will see him contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the team.

The second Lola-Aston Martin in the class with privateer team Signature Plus was eighth fastest while the sole GT class Aston Martin, a GT2 Vantage run by JMW Motorsport was an impressive fifth in class in the Essex based team's first race with the car.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Racing