Porsche takes pole as rain stops play at Le Mans


 

Porsche confirmed its second consecutive pole position for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a rain-affected final qualifying session at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Intermittent showers during the second session on Thursday afternoon followed by heavier, more persistent rain in the later evening session resulted in a wet track.

Consequently, no cars improved their times and the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid which topped the opening session on Wednesday evening sealed pole for the 24 hour race on June 18-19.

Neel Jani’s 3:19.733s lap was 0.470 seconds quicker than the sister Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard, who will start from second on the grid in the #1 car he shares with Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley.

Jani will co-pilot the #2 championship-leading machine with WEC team-mates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas.

Row two of the 60 car grid will be occupied by both Toyota TS050 Hybrids, with the #6 car driven by Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi reaching a best lap of 3:20.737s, over a second clear of the sister #5 entry of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

The final qualifying session was topped by Kobayashi, who set a 3:50.934s time in the wet conditions. Half of the session was lost to a red flag period during the first half of running after cars started aquaplaning in the treacherous conditions.

LMP2 pole position went to the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan, driven in Q1 by Rene Rast. The German ace’s 3:36.605s best put the car he shares with Will Stevens and Roman Rusinov 0.570 seconds ahead of the #35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine-Nissan which took second. Third in class was the sister Alpine car, entered by French outfit Signatech, while Manor and Michael Shank Racing completed the top five.

Ford dominated GTE-Pro qualifying as all four of its Chip Ganassi-run entries set times in the top five. Dirk Muller, driving the #68 car, set a 3:51.185s lap during Q1 to take pole position on the team’s return to Le Mans. The only interloper at the top of the timesheets was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488, which in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni set a 3:51.497s lap good enough for second.

The race for GTE-Am pole position was won by McLaren factory driver Rob Bell, who stormed to a 3:56.827s best late in the first session to give Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari 458 Italia its maiden Le Mans pole. The Asian Le Mans Series champions will share the front row with the #98 Aston Martin, while two AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italias occupy the second row.

The 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway tomorrow (June 18) at 15:00 local time.