Andre Lotterer feels that the pace demonstrated by the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in qualifying shows the strength of the car, but that rival Toyota has also shown itself to be a threat.
German Lotterer qualified the #1 Audi on pole, shaving nearly two seconds off the pole time from 2011.
“Clinching pole at Le Mans is a cool feeling,” he said. “Of course a lot can happen in the race but our performance does show that we've got a strong car in our R18 e-tron quattro. So my thanks go to the squad that has been working hard for this for a year.
“I received only one set of new tires and had only one free lap which I made good use of. It's good to know that the speed is there because the competition does not sleep. Toyota showed what they're capable of toward the end of qualifying. We've now got a good starting base and have given the mechanics a nice reward for their fantastic commitment in the past few days.”
Audi chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was understandably pleased to have locked out the front row of the grid.
“I think it's fantastic that we've captured the front row of the grid for Audi,” said Ullrich. “As expected, our e-tron quattro is a bit faster than the Audi R18 ultra. And we could see that our competition from Toyota is close.
“Still, we're running in front – that may not necessarily be important for the race but it's a good base and, most importantly, great motivation for the squad that has been working so hard for this.”
New Audi recruit Loic Duval put the #3 ultra on the front row alongside Lotterer's car.
“This was a good qualifying session,” said the Frenchman. “We're pleased and feel well prepared for the race.
“Obviously, we'd have liked to have clinched the fastest time but the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is simply a bit better here at Le Mans. Considering this, the best time for car number '1' is also well deserved because they've been fast since the test day. For us, it's good to start in second place. We've achieved good results over the distance as well.”
Eight-time winner Tom Kristensen posted the fastest time of the experienced trio in the #2 e-tron quattro to take fourth on the grid.
“It was a good day for us,” said the Dane. “We focussed on a good set-up for the race. Our Audi worked well and in my stint after 10pm, the lap times were good and competitive on new tires. We face good, stiff competition but are looking forward to a great race. Of course well done to Andre on a perfect 'pole'.”
Le Mans debutant Marco Bonanomi was the fastest man in the #4 ultra, taking sixth on the grid.
“That was a nice qualifying session although it actually wasn't qualifying for us in the real sense,” said the Italian. “On both days we were trying to work for the race and drove several stints straight to see how the tires were working.
“So, considering this, our time is okay even though it's a bit slower than that of the other cars. But the grid position isn't so important at Le Mans. We found a good rhythm and are ready for the race.”