The three works Peugeot 908 will start third, fifth and sixth on a tantalisingly tightly packed line-up at the head of the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The six works diesels – the three Peugeots and three rival Audis – expected to fight for overall victory ended the six hours of qualifying just half a second apart. Simon Pagenaud's late improvement in the no.9 car was the final major move among the top teams, the Frenchman moving into third place, though he was unable to displace the two Audis who took the front row of the grid.

A potential attempt for pole position by Pagenaud in the closing minutes was thwarted by a puncture.

Much of the four hours of running on Thursday was spent preparing for the race, the team using the three diesel engine coupes to compare mechanical and aerodynamic set up for the race ahead.

Despite this both the no.7 and no.8 Peugeots has stints at the top of the timesheets during the tow sessions, Stephane Sarrazin – momentarily retaking the provisional pole he held overnight – and Marc Gene running the quick laps.

The year-old Peugeot 908 HDI FAP entered by privateer squad Team ORECA Matmut will start seventh.

“Our drivers did a great job and are happy with the set-up of their cars,” said Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel. “It's quite staggering that after six hours of qualifying, there are six cars separated by just five tenths on a track that is over 13 kilometres! With fifty six cars on the track, it’s the traffic that has the biggest say in who claims pole position.”

“We put on a fantastic show, whilst also completing our working programme, in terms of tyres and set-up. We had no problems at all. Everyone watching has been focussed on the performances of the cars during these exciting qualifying sessions but now we now have 24 Hours of racing to take part in! Le Mans is above all about reliability, good pit stops, and a question of fuel consumption and strategy. The race is going to be extremely testing.”

The race starts at 2pm UK time, and The Checkered Flag will be covering the entire race live with live comment and hourly updates.