Porsche scores Shanghai pole in ultra-close qualifying session
Porsche will start Sunday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai from the pole following a ultra-close qualifying session that ended in a dead heat up front.
Neel Jani and Romain Dumas combined for a four-lap average of 1:48.300, the identical aggregate time that Toyota’s Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi recorded in the 25-minute session.
The pole went to the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid as a result of Jani and Dumas recording their quick laps prior to the pairing in the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid.
As a result, the German manufacturer scored its second pole of the season and first in dry conditions.
Jani and Dumas will share the wheel of the Porsche with Marc Lieb on Sunday.
The sister No. 20 car, qualified by Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, will roll off third, with a combined average that was only 0.024 seconds slower than the pole-winning time.
Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima qualified the No. 7 Toyota in fourth, while the pair of Audi R18 e-tron quattros were relegated to fifth and sixth after another disappointing qualifying run for the diesel-powered entries.
The No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Mathias Beche and Nicolas Prost claimed top qualifying honors in LMP1-L, with a 1:52.431 average and will line up sixth overall.
G-Drive Racing captured another pole in LMP2, with Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov taking their Ligier JS P2 Nissan to 1:54.327 average, a time that was nearly one second clear of the competition.
The No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03R Nissan of Alexandre Imperatori and Richard Bradley was second, with the No. 37 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan qualifying a season-best third in the hands of brothers Kirill Ladygin and Anton Ladygin.
G-Drive’s Pla and Rusinov, along with Julien Canal, seek back-to-back class wins following a breakthrough first victory for the Onroak Automotive-designed prototype in Fuji.
The two Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03bs struggled in qualifying and will start fifth and sixth in class, respectively.
Aston Martin Racing swept qualifying honors in the production-based classes, with the factory Vantage GTEs taking poles in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am for the second consecutive race.
While it was the Craft-Bamboo-backed Aston that scored pole at Fuji, it was Darren Turner and Stefan Muecke that claimed the top spot.
The duo combined for a four-lap average of 2:04.342 average in their No. 97 Aston Martin, edging out the No. 92 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet by 0.102 seconds.
It marked Turner and Muecke’s first pole of the season as they seek their third straight class win in Shanghai tomorrow.
Joerg Bergmeister and Richard Lietz made it two Porsches in the top-three, following improved pace for the pair of factory 911 RSRs.
Championship leaders Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander will roll off fourth on the grid, thanks to their 2:04.780 average that was nearly a half-second slower than the pole-sitting Aston.
AMR’s Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard scored their second straight pole in GTE-Am, thanks to a 2:05.072 average.
The time was 0.072 seconds quicker than the No. 75 ProSpeed Competition Porsche 911 RSR, qualified by Emmanuel Collard and Matthieu Vaxiviere, which ended up second.
Class pole-sitters Lamy and Nygaard will be joined by Paul Dalla Lana in the No. 98 car on Sunday.
The No. 95 Aston Martin will start third in class, despite Richie Stanaway’s 2:03.649 lap time, which stood as the quickest single lap in GTE combined.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai takes the green Sunday at 11 a.m. local. (Saturday, 11 p.m. ET)