A late flyer by Kazuki Nakajima put the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid on the top spot, thanks to Nakajima and co-driver’s Alex Wurz’s four-lap average of 1:42.774 in the intense 25-minute prototype qualifying session.
The Toyota’s average time narrowly edged out the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, qualified by Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval, by just 0.005 seconds.
Romain Dumas and Neel Jani combining to put the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid third on the grid, resulting in a car from each of the LMP1-H factory teams in the top-three for the highly anticipated season opener.
It was an unexpected pole for the TS040 Hybrid, which had not topped the time charts in any of the practice sessions this weekend. Wurz and Nakajima will share the pole-winning Toyota with Stephane Sarrazin on Sunday.
Defending FIA WEC champion Kristensen set the session’s quickest time of 1:42.477, but it wasn’t enough for the top spot, in the ultra-close session. The quickest of the Porsches was just three-tenths back.
The No. 2 Audi, qualified by Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotter was fourth, with the No. 8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre completing the top-five overall and in class.
Remarkably, Rebellion Racing’s Lola B12/60 Toyotas came within 1.5 seconds of the pole-sitting Toyota, with the No. 13 entry of Fabio Leimer and Dominik Kraihamer edging out the Mathias Beche and Nick Heidfeld entry for LMP1-L class pole.
LMP2 class pole honors went to the G-Drive Racing duo of Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov, who combined for a 1:49.156 average in their No. 26 Morgan-Nissan.
The duo, who will share the wheel of their OAK Racing-run entry with Julien Canal on Sunday, was 0.283 seconds ahead of the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan of Richard Bradley and Tsugio Matsuda in second.
Both of the SMP Racing Oreca-Nissans struggled in qualifying, with combined times that were more than two seconds off the class pole-sitting Morgan.
AF Corse swept both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am categories in qualifying for Sunday’s FIA WEC season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone.
Toni Vilander and reigning class champion Gianamria Bruni will start from the pole in GTE-Pro, thanks to a four-lap combined average of 1:59.125 from the No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia.
Vilander and Bruni’s time edged out the No. 91 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy by 0.255 seconds.
It marked a perfect start for the Italian squad, which swept both the drivers and team’s titles last year.
The No. 92 Porsche of Fred Makowiecki and Marco Holzer will roll off third in class, with 1:59.717 average, followed by the Davide Rigon and James Calado-driven No. 71 AF Corse entry in fourth.
Aston Martins struggled in the 25-minute qualifying session, with the No. 97 Vantage GTE of Darren Turner and Stefan Muecke completing the top-five, but with a slower cumulative time than the GTE-Am class pole-sitting Ferrari.
Michele Rugolo and Marco Cioci took the No. 81 AF Corse to the top qualifying position in GTE-Am with 1:59.932 average in the 2013-spec Prancing Horse. The duo’s average time was nearly one-second clear of the competition.
Rugolo and Cioci will be joined on Sunday by Steve Wyatt, who is making his FIA WEC debut this weekend.
The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard will line up second in class, followed by the No. 61 AF Corse in third.
The only notable incident was a spin by the No. 53 Ram Racing Ferrari of Ben Collins on his out lap. The car, however, managed to recover and qualify seventh in class.
The Six Hours of Silverstone gets underway Sunday at 7 a.m. ET.FIA WEC, Silverstone, Sports Cars, Toyota Racing