FIA WEC: Porsche sweeps front row for 6 Hours of Spa
After a front-row lockout by Audi at Silverstone, Porsche has retaliated with a 1-2 sweep in qualifying for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season at Spa-Francorchamps.
Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley gave Porsche its first pole of the year, taking their No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid to a best two-lap average of 1:55.793 in the 25-minute session.
Their average time was 0.797 seconds quicker than teammates Marc Lieb and Neel Jani, who along with Romain Dumas, inherited the overall win in last month’s season-opener.
Porsche proved to be the class of the field in qualifying, with the German manufacturer nearly 2 seconds ahead of the LMP1 competition.
The No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, qualified by Stephane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi, was best of the rest with a 1:57.698 average, and will start third overall.
Bernhard and Hartley will share driving duties of the No. 1 Porsche with fellow defending World Champion Mark Webber in Saturday’s WEC Six Hours of Spa.
Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis qualified the No. 8 Audi R18 in fourth, with the No. 5 Toyota completing the top-five overall and in the LMP1 class.
Third through fifth in class were separated by only 0.052 seconds.
G-Drive Racing scored its second consecutive pole in LMP2, thanks to Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov’s 2:07.363 average set in their No. 26 Oreca 05 Nissan.
The pairing outran the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460 Nissan of Nicolas Lapierre and American Gustavo Menezes by 0.459 seconds.
Manor scored a career-best third in qualifying, with Will Stevens and Tor Graves’ recording a 2:08.893 average in their No. 45 Oreca Nissan.
The No. 43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier JS P2 Nissan and No. 37 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan completed the top-five in class.
The session was red-flagged 10 minutes in for debris following contact between the RGR Sport Ligier and the No. 4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER. Both cars continued and set qualifying times.
AF Corse has claimed back-to-back GTE-Pro class poles with its new Ferrari 488 GTE car, with Sam Bird and Davide Rigon taking top qualifying honors in class.
The pairing combined for a best two-lap average of 2:17.644, outpacing the sister No. 51 entry of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado by 0.317 seconds.
Bruni made a late improvement of 2:17.835 late in the 25-minute session, bumping the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Fernando Rees and Richie Stanaway to third in class.
Bird and Rigon, who also started on pole at Silverstone, will be looking for their second consecutive class win on Saturday after a dominant run in the season-opener.
The pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entries will start fourth and fifth in class, with the No. 66 Ford GT of Olivier Pla and Stefan Muecke just 0.038 seconds faster than the No. 67 entry, qualified by Marino Franchitti and Andy Priaulx.
In GTE-Am, Aston Martin Racing’s Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana claimed pole, thanks to the duo’s 2:20.351 average in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Lamy and Dalla Lana’s time was a considerable 1.851 seconds faster than the Silverstone class-winning No. 81 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT of Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas in second.
The class pole-winning pairing will team with Mathias Lauda in the race tomorrow.
The WEC Six Hours of Spa gets underway Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET, live on FS1.