Porsche sweeps top three starting positions for 24 Hours of Le Mans
The No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid has secured the pole for Saturday's 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, courtesy of Neel Jani's new lap record of 3:16.887 set on his first flying lap in Wednesday's first qualifying session.
With this pole, Porsche Team has extended its pole streak to six consecutive races in the FIA World Endurance Championship, following its second straight 1-2-3 qualifying effort.
It is also Porsche's fourth straight FIA WEC front row sweep, dating to Brazil last year, and Porsche's first overall pole at Le Mans since a TWR-Porsche WSC-95 won the pole in 1997.
Jani will share the car with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.
Jani's best time ended a run of three races in a row where the No. 17 car, qualified by some two-driver combination of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, scored the pole position.
The aforementioned No. 17 car will start second, with Bernhard's best lap of 3:17.767 also coming on Wednesday.
Porsche's third car, featuring the trio of LMP1 rookies in Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, starts third courtesy of Tandy's best time of 3:18.862. Tandy's best lap was set in the truncated second qualifying session.
Audi will start fourth, fifth and sixth with its three Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Loic Duval's time of 3:19.866, set on Wednesday, was best of the group in the No. 8 Audi. Audi started fourth, sixth and seventh last year.
Neither of the Toyota TS040 Hybrids improved on their Wednesday time either, with the No. 2 Toyota ahead of the No. 1 Toyota in seventh and eighth overall.
The pair of debuting Rebellion R-One AERs will start ninth and 10th. The No. 13 car, driven by Alexandre Imperatori, Dominik Kraihamer and Daniel Abt improved its time by more than three seconds from Wednesday to 3:28.930, despite having a couple off-track incidents this week.
ByKolles improved its time with its CLM P01/AER by 3.3 seconds to end 11th at 3:36.825, just ahead of the leading Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in 12th at 3:36.995, with Harry Tincknell setting the time in the final 10 minutes of third qualifying.
There was very little movement in LMP2 as well. Richard Bradley's first lap set on Wednesday, a 3:38.032 in the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan, netted the pole for that car in its Le Mans debut. Bradley will share the car with Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre.
Sam Bird, the 2014 GTE-Am class polesitter at Le Mans, led the timesheets in LMP2 in the third and final qualifying session with a best time of 3:38.939 in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan.
That got that car up to second in class, but unable to make up the difference to the Oreca.
The pair of Gibson 015S Nissans, the No. 41 Greaves Motorsport and No. 38 Jota Sport cars, will start third and fourth with the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan fifth in the 19-car class.
Aston Martin Racing swept GTE qualifying honors, with the British manufacturer claiming three of the top-four combined positions in the production-based categories.
Richie Stanaway's 3:54.928 lap time from Wednesday's qualifying session held as the quickest in GTE-Pro, while Pedro Lamy scored GTE-Am class pole.
Stanaway, who will share the No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 with Alex MacDowall and Fernando Rees, was more than two seconds clear of the competition.
It marked Aston Martin's sixth consecutive GTE qualifying sweep in FIA World Endurance Championship competition, dating back to Fuji of last year, and its second in the last three years at Le Mans.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni was second, thanks to a 3:55.025 lap time set by the Italian in Thursday's final session after his times from Q1 were deleted due to abusing track limits.
Lamy's GTE-Am pole-winning 3:55.102 lap from Q1 was good enough for third among the GTE cars, ahead of the GTE-Pro class No. 97 Aston Martin art car, which will start third in class.
Bruni was just one of a handful of drivers to make improvements in Q3, which also included teammate James Calado in the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari, who moved from eighth to fourth.
It came prior to an off by co-driver Olivier Beretta at Indianapolis, although the car was not badly damaged from the single-car incident.
Aston Martin and Ferraris swept the top-five in GTE-Pro, with the No. 63 Corvette C7.R the best of the rest, although following a drama-filled day for the Pratt & Miller squad.
Magnussen crashed heavily at the Porsche Curves, which brought an early end to Q2. The Dane was evaluated and released from the medical center.
The team was forced to withdraw the No. 63 entry from the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to damage to the right front and right side of the car.
The No. 95 Aston Martin stopped on track with Marco Sorenson driving, just after the Dunlop chicane, in the final 10 minutes of the session.
There was also drama for Alex Kapadia in the No. 67 Team AAI Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which ground to a halt on track on fire to bring out the session's only red flag.
Of note, the No. 53 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R qualified fourth in GTE-Am, thanks to an improvement by Jeroen Bleekemolen, while Patrick Long put the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche fifth in class.
Coverage of the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports GO.