Audi has scored an emotional pole in its final race in FIA World Endurance Championship competition, with the German manufacturer set to start from the top in Saturday’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis combined for a best two-lap average of 1:39.207 in their No. 8 Audi R18 edging out the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, qualified by Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, by 0.264 seconds.
Late improvements by Bernhard and the championship-leading No. 2 Porsche of Marc Lieb denied an all-Audi front row, with the No. 7 car of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler qualifying fourth overall.
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It marked the No. 8 Audi’s third pole of the season, as Di Grassi, Jarvis and co-driver Loic Duval look to end the manufacturer’s 18-year prototype legacy with a win tomorrow.
Toyota Gazoo Racing struggled in qualifying, with the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids fifth and sixth, and more than one-second off the pace from the pole-sitting Audi.
The No. 13 Rebellion Racing R-One AER was quickest of the LMP1 Privateer cars, after troubles for the No. 4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER.
G-Drive Racing scored its sixth pole of the season in LMP2, with Roman Rusinov and the returning Rene Rast combining for a 1:49.672 average in their No. 26 Oreca 05 Nissan.
Their combined time edged out the championship-elect No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460 Nissan of Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi by just 0.018 seconds.
The No. 44 Manor Oreca 05 Nissan of Matt Rao and Alex Lynn, who scored pole in Shanghai, qualified third in class, following a series of lap deletions for a number of other LMP2 contenders for track limits.
Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, swept both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes.
Darren Turner and WEC returnee Jonny Adam set precisely the same time of 1:56.953 to take AMR’s fourth pole of the season, 0.128 seconds ahead of teammates Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen in the No. 95 car.
Crucially, the result ensures Thiim and Sorensen retain their 12-point championship margin over the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon, who will start from fifth in class.
James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni were the best of the Ferraris in third, 0.427 seconds behind the pole time. They will share row two with the fastest Ford driven by Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx.
A last-lap effort by Pedro Lamy was enough to give Aston Martin pole in GTE-Am class as well, denying the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari a chance to put the title out of reach before the race.
Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo’s average time of 2:00.227 put them in the box seat until the closing moments of the 20-minute session, when Lamy’s time put the No. 98 Vantage GTE he shares with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda on pole for the fourth race in a row.
The Aston Martin trio now sit 25 points behind the Ferrari in the standings, but must win the race with Collard, Perrodo and Rui Aguas failing to finish if they are to win the title.
The Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R qualified third in the hands of Ricky Taylor and Romain Brandela, despite a spin from the Frenchman in the session’s only noteworthy incident.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Bahrain gets underway Saturday at 4 p.m. local time. The first hour of the 6 Hours of Bahrain will be shown LIVE on FS1 Saturday at 8 a.m. ET. The full event will be streamed live on FOX Sports GO.