Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen put together two perfect laps to claim a combined time of 1:59.579 to take pole position at the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Shanghai.
The 20-minute session saw Estre and Christensen use two sets of tyres while the sister car driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz used just one set, saving fresh rubber for the race.
Porsche head into the race in the lead of the manufacturers’ championship, giving the new for 2019 Porsche 911 RSR a near-perfect start to its racing career with victory at Silverstone and a further podium at Fuji.
Alexander Stehlig, Porsche Head of Operations for FIA WEC said, “We experienced a diverse qualifying. One car at the front, one at the back; we split the strategies for the two vehicles.
“Claiming the second pole position at the third race is, of course, great for us. We did our homework. Position one is the perfect place to start the race.”
Frenchman Estre was delighted with his lap, despite not feeling like they had found the perfect setup yet.
“My lap was simply perfect! We had a great setup for the car. In these temperatures, we experienced slightly more understeer compared to this morning’s free practice,” said Estre.
“Still, we were good enough for pole position. In my opinion, on this circuit, you have to drive a little under the limit here so that you don’t make a mistake. Previously I was often dissatisfied with my qualifying, but now I’m really pleased.“
Teammate Christensen was happy that the #92 car had claimed pole position, but felt that he could have performed better in the session, “I found it tough because I made a couple of minor mistakes,” explained the Dane.
“But in the end I managed a good lap. Kevin then turned a perfect lap. We’re very clearly on pole. Some of the teams behind us only used one set of tyres. I’m pleased about earning the extra point for the fastest qualifying lap.”
With the #92 car on pole position, the sister #91 will start the race from a frustrating sixth place. While they will be disappointed to start further back, Ginamaria Bruni and Richard Lietz will have the advantage of a fresh set of tyres for the race.
“My first laps were okay,” explained Bruni. “Richard then went out on the same set of tyres. Our average today wasn’t so great, but we have a good strategy for the race. We know that we have the backing of the best team in the WEC. So, anything is possible tomorrow.“
Teammate Leitz added, “The car felt really good. The balance is great for the race. We deliberately split the strategy. I expect the tyre wear to be extremely high in the race, hence we’re hoping for an advantage after using only one set of tyres today.”
Porsche customer team Project 1 lead the way in GTE-Am
It was a double pole position for the German manufacturer as customer team Project 1 claimed the top spot in the GTE-Am class with Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli, and Egidio Perfetti setting the fastest time of the class. Joining them for the race will be David Heinemeier Hansson from Denmark.
The was initial frustration from Matteo Cairoli after facing traffic in the opening minutes of the session, thankfully for the young Italian he managed to piece together a strong lap, “I’m happy that Egidio, David and I take up the race here in Shanghai from pole position in the GTE-Am class.
“I had two good laps. In the first lap, I was hampered a bit by another vehicle, but then I got a free run and I’m happy that I managed to pull all of my fast sector times together,” said Cairoli.
The sister #57 car will start from fifth place while Dempsey-Proton Racing starts from third, eighth and eleventh. Gulf Racing start from ninth.