An astonishing show from Alex Wurz ensured that the Toyota Racing TS030 Hybrid will start the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Sao Paulo from pole position after the Austrian blasted around the Interlagos track while both Audis sat idle in the pitlane.
Though the session for the LMP1 team to qualify was twenty minutes, neither of the manufacturers used the entire session, instead opting to save their tyres for the start of the race tomorrow. It was the two Audis that went out with the green flag, Andre Lotterer leading the way on track. However, it was Lucas Di Grassi, following in the #2 Audi R18 Ultra who was setting the pace on the timesheets, catching his teammate as he set first a 1:23.324 the a 23.147 to move provisional pole out of the reach of Lotterer in the hybrid Audi.
Lotterer continued on for two further laps after Di Grassi, presumably satisfied he had reach the tipping point of pace and tyre usage, pitted and walked away from the car he shares with Audi old hands Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen. However, to this point it has been Di Grassi, making his first – and as yet scheduled only – Audi Motorsport start who has been the fastest man in the car. The trust the team showed in giving his the responsibility for qualifying was clearly vindicated as Lotterer failed to improve on his own time, surrendering and bringing his Audi into the pits alongside Di Grassi’s.
All of this had been completed without the Toyota on track, the car lying in wait in the pits until just five minutes remained in the session before Wurz took the car out on track.
Almost immediately he took pole.
His 1:22.871 – set on his first flying lap, with just under four minutes left in the session – all but clinched pole position, leaving the Audi with no time to respond. Even so, Wurz found another half second on his second flyer, stopping the clock at 1:22.363.
He had run fewer laps than either R18, and romped untroubled to pole position, 0.784 faster than Di Grassi’s time, nearly a second faster than Lotterer’s best.
There was similar story in the privateer battle in LMP1. Danny Watts had been the only other driver from the top class on track with the Audis, the Strakka Racing man briefly sat between the pair of R18s in the time during the earliest laps. However, with Watts back in the garage it was Neel Jani in the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola who stole away fourth place in his absence.
The top two in the LMP2 points will line-up at the head of the class, Stephane Sarrazin and Starworks Motorsport winning the latest round of their battle with ADR–Delta, John Martin only able to lap just outside of tenth slower in the ORECA 03-Nissan. Silverstone hero – after a quadruple stint to the flag – Nelson Panciatici was third fastest for Signatech Nissan ahead of the better of the two OAK Racing Morgans.
Fifth in class (just 0.290 slower than Sarrazin) was Tonio Liuzzi. While the top four ran primarily in the second half of the session Liuzzi was one of just three prototype drivers to use the entire session – the others being Liuzzi’s Lotus teammate Thomas Holzer and Gulf Racing’s Fabien Giroix. Liuzzi held the class pole after bringing his times down through the 1:27 bracket before his times dropped away, leaving him unable to respond in the second half of the session.
Darren Turner won the GTE Pro duel for pole position with Team Felbermayr–Proton’s Marc Lieb, the Aston and Porsche drivers swapping the top time during their separate 20 minutes session, leaving the AF Corse Ferraris of Giancarlo Fisichella and Andrea Bertolini.
There was more success for AF Corse in GTE Am, Enrique Bernoldi putting the all-Brazilian crewed #61 by more than sixth tenths over Michele Rugolo in the Krohn Racing 458.