In this evening’s qualifying session for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps tomorrow, Audi Sport Team Joest has qualified 4th, 5th and 8th, with the Porsche 919s out-qualifying them.
The #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer managed to set an average qualifying time just short of the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid which will start from pole position.
Heavy rain disrupted the team’s running on Thursday’s practice sessions, and so the team’s best chance of re-learning the track came earlier today in the final free practice session, on a dry track. The best time was set by André Lotterer, in the #7 Audi.
The track remained dry for the evening’s LMP qualifying session. Lotterer and Fässler each set a lap time and the qualifying result was based on an average of the two, which was a 1:55.540, with the pole position time being a 1:54.767.
“I went out twice,” Lotterer said. “In the second outing, I felt the tires were optimal.”
Marcel Fässler added: “I didn’t find a perfect rhythm immediately, so it was also only my second lap that was okay. I believe we’re pretty well prepared for the race.”
Qualifying in 5th place was the #8 Audi of Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis. “We’re not completely happy yet with the set-up. There’s still some overnight work to do but we’re hoping for a good race,” commented Duval.
Finally, the #9 car, which is only running this race as practice for Le Mans, is using a different aerodynamics setup designed for higher downforce. Filipe Alberquerque and René Rast completed the qualifying run, and will start tomorrow’s race from 8th, along with Marco Bonanomi.
“I’m expecting this aerodynamics version to help us reduce tire wear in the race so that we can drive very consistent lap times this way,” Albuquerque said.
For Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich qualifying was dominated by a technical question: “For us, this weekend at Spa is about comparing the two aerodynamic versions. This is part of our intensive preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours. It was good to see how close the front runners were in qualifying. We’ve worked out a solid starting base for a race that might be similarly thrilling as round one at Silverstone.”
The race will start at 14:30 local time (CEST) tomorrow, 13:30 BST.