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FIA WEC: Circuit of the Americas, LMP Qualifying, Toyota take Pole, Ligier Do the Austin Double!

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The LMP qualifying session looked set to provide some close battling and it did just that, with a dollop of drama and a dash of controversy for taste!

The #9 Lotus would play no part, the team hoping for the arrival of a spare gear selector part overnight from the UK, the car will be allowed to start from the pit lane after the whole field has passed.

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There was trouble late in the session for another LMP1-L runner too, Nick Heidfeld grinding to a halt and bringing out the red flag with four and a half minutes remaining, the #12 Rebellion apparently suffering a broken ‘fly by wire’ throttle.

That brought out a brief red flag, the clock stopped, leaving the session interestingly poised, but with a surprise or two to come.

The Audis looked a little out of sorts after their dominance of the weekend’s early running, Audi later revealing that both cars had a minor software glitch on the lap trigger that blunted their edge, the #1 Audi and #14 Porsche also suffering the penalty of a lap time deletion for exceeding their Energy Recovery System limits, the Audi it seems as a result of the glitch, the first time we have seen this sanction used in the new LMP1H era.

There was potential trouble too for the #7 Toyota too, the car under investigation for reported blocking early in the session when it seemed to dawdle in the middle of the road, ruining a Neel Jani flier.

At the end though, despite great pace from both Porsches, it was a conclusive pole position from the Championship leading #8 Toyota, the car had completed three flying laps laps before the Red Flag, this after a brief ‘off’ for Ant Davidson, the team having held the car to take advantage of improving conditions, being fully aware of the tricky hairpin but the Englishman caught out there anyway after being surprised by the level of grip prior to that point on the circuit.

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That left Sebastien Buemi with one shot at a fast lap to secure pole, a real pressure situation, but the Swiss produced the goods, the four lap completed in an average of 1:49.093, over a second clear of the #14 Porsche.

In LMP2 there was a second pole position here today for a Ligier chassis after the earlier overall TUSCC pole for the Honda engined TUSCC car.

Roman Rusinov kept the car in touch with a pacy Tsugio Matsuda, early session leader in the #47 KCMG Oreca Nissan.

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Olivier Pla was sent out on harder compound Dunlops and did more than enough to see off a solid run from Richard Bradley, the Frenchman completing a four lap average for the #26 G-Drive Ligier Nissan of 1:56.075, 3 tenths clear of the Oreca with the ESM Honda third fastest, almost a full second back after Scot Sharp seemed to struggle with the conditions.

There was a late spin from Viktor Shaitar in the #37 SMP Oreca Nissan and news post session that Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani had both been allowed to complete their night qualifying laps in the #37 after their own #27 car suffered mechanical problems last night.

The Ligier meanwhile changed back to the softer rubber before the session ended and will therefore start on those tyres tomorrow evening.