Audi’s two R18 LMP1 cars locked out the front row for the Six Hours of Silverstone, but left their move to the front late in a 20 minute session of changing track conditions.
Benoit Treluyer was given the responsibility of qualifying the #1 e-tron quattro hybrid while Allan McNish – after dominating the final practice session – was aboard the conventionally powered R18 ultra. However, both men were fell behind as Toyota driver Nicolas Lapierre took the initiative. Lapierre was the first of the manufacturer drivers to switch from intermediate to slick tyres and reaped the benefits by moving into provisional pole.
“We started running on intermediates in order to set a time early on,” said Audi Sport Team Joest technical director Ralf Juttner. “Others then switched to slicks a little earlier while we were posting several good times on our tires in order to be prepared for rain, as this risk definitely existed. After taking these safeguards, we switched to slicks.”
Both Treluyer and McNish made the move onto slick Michelin tyres soon after and three minutes before the end of the session McNish moved to the top of the timesheets. On the following lap Treluyer doubled the Audi dominance moving into pole position by lapping the 5.89 mile circuit in 1:43.663.
McNish tried to reply but could only confirm himself in second place, missing out pole position by just a single hundredth.
“That was a pretty tough qualifying session!” said Treluyer. “I’m happy to be at the very front in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. For me, this augurs well for the race. After all, this is my first race weekend at Silverstone. I think the track likes me and I like the track!”
“It was a close battle in which the weather played a part as well,” McNish analysed. “The strategy was important today. The car felt excellent. It gave me a lot of confidence and even in difficult track conditions we received positive feedback. We’re only lacking a hundredth, which is negligible. We can really be pleased. We’ve got a very good race car that also feels perfect in traffic. I’m expecting a close battle.”