Allan McNish led the Audi 1-2-3-4 in qualifying for tomorrow's Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, setting the fastest time of the session by more than half a second in the no.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
Having to start the race on the same tyres they qualified on all four Audis – two diesel hybrid e-tron Quattro and two strictly diesel lightweight R18 Ultra – kept their running to a minimum, especially as their leading the session was almost guaranteed if they ran without problem
Marco Bonanomi on his first endurance racing weekend with Audi – as is co-driver Oliver Jarvis – struck the first blow in the internecine battle, but his lap of 2:02.093 held pole position for only eight seconds before McNish's hybrid whistle and whirred its way to the top of the timesheets, the whirring the sound of the energy being recovered under braking to be unleashed under acceleration. The Scot, who shares the no.2 car with regular co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello extended his advantage by another four tenths on his following lap (2:01.579) before returning to pits, his mission accomplished.
Behind Bonanomi's time in second place was the no.1 car. After ending all three prior practice sessions on top Marcel Fassler was unable to once more lift the reigning Le Mans champions to the top, as his qualifying efforts fell short of even matching his time from the morning practice session.
As in all three practice sessions, Rebellion Racing were the closest challengers to the Audis, though Neel Jani's time in the Lola-Toyota was still one than 1.5 seconds slower than Loic Duval in the caboose of the leading Audi train.
Jani and Andrea Belicchi in the sister Rebellion Lola sandwiched Danny Watts in the Strakka HPD with Karun Chandhok qualifying JRM's HPD fractionally ahead of Sebastien Bourdais in Pescarolo Team's Dome S102.5.
Margins were just as tight at the top LMP2. Single-seater convert John Martin clinched the class pole for ADR-Delta, outpacing James Rossiter's Lotus powered and entered Lola by just 0.041 seconds. Sam Hancock was third in the JOTA Zytek-Nissan, Olivier Pla fourth for OAK Racing.
The top of the LMP2 ranks was again close – the top six (rounded out by Renger van de Zande for Lotus and Soheil Ayari for Pecom Racing) covered by just six-tenths of a second, appearing to set-up what should be a fine race for class honours.
In something of a surprise Fred Makowiecki took GTEPro pole for Luxury Racing against the might of the Italian AF Corse squad and multiple Le Mans Series champions Team Felbermayr-Proton. Makowiecki was untouchable in the session, taking pole early on and extending his advantage during the session until he enjoyed a margin of nearly half a second over Giancarlo Fisichella in second for AF Corse. Stefan Mucke was third in class for Aston Martin Racing, Marc Lieb fourth for Felbermayr-Proton.
Nicolas Armindo led the GTEAm class for Porsche squad IMSA Performance Matmut with Marco Cioci in second for AF Corse. Jean-Philippe Belloc, who led the final practice session could only finish fifth fastest in the session falling behind Julien Canal in the other Larbre Competition Corvette.
Rui Aguas qualified sixth in the AF Corse-Waltrip Ferrari he shares with NASCAR men Michael Waltrip – a man who has embraced endurance racing in recent seasons – and Brian Vickers.