It was a consumate display of quick fire automotive superiority that secured Porsche their seventh consecutive front row domination of the season with a time that shattered the Qualifying lap record.
Any semblance of doubt that it would be the #17 that took the pole, and the valuable Drivers’ Championship point, was dispelled immediately as Brendon Hartley smashed in a 1:42.621, almost 6 seconds faster than the existing Qualifying record.
To put that into some context, the previous Qualifying record was set in 2013 1:48.0 set over a 4 lap average, they improved on that by around 2.5 seconds today and ended up fifth and sixth!
Porsche’s pole average last year (over 4 laps) was 1:48.300, with a time set by Mark Webber, second in the #17 just a tenth off his team-mate that means that Porsche’s qualifying improvement, year on year is c.5.6 seconds!
Beyond that it was fairly academic stuff. The #18 Porsche pitting before setting a flier and later proving too quick for the Audis, and not quick enough for the #17.
Duval and di Grassi got the #8 Audi up to third ahead of the #7 car with the Toyotas a distant fifth and sixth despite that sizeable year on year improvement.
Rebellion scored a 1,2 in LMP1 Privateer with the #13 again ahead of the #12, the CLM third, Pierre Kaffer meanwhile received a reprimand for his contact on the #92 Porsche in FP3.
In LMP2 the pole point is likely as important as in any class and after some early session heroics from Danny Watts in the Strakka Gibson that saw the #42 the only car into the 1:52s. ahead of the Signatech Alpine, the #43 SARD Morand Morgan and the #26 G-Drive Ligier.
The change to the second drivers though saw things change rapidly and it was again Sam Bird that took control of the session.
The Briton banged in the only sub 1:52 lap of the session (1:51.984), to edge away from the pursuing pack, Nick Tandy unable to close the gap and the Championship leaders edged away by that valuable point to 13 points over the KCMG squad.
Behind that it was the #28 G-Drive Ligier third, the top 3 in the Championship in Championship order on the grid!
Behind that came Sard Morand, Signatech Alpine and Tequila Patron ESM’s #30 Ligier HPD.