The #7 Audi R18 will start tomorrow’s 6 Hours of Silverstone from pole position, heading a surprise Audi 1-2 after Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler’s average time of 1:53.204 on the drying circuit. It’s the first time Audi has been on pole in the WEC since the 2013 round at Fuji.
It’s also snapped an 11-race Porsche pole streak.
“It was difficult to know what was to expect in the wet,” said Lotterer after the session. “We weren’t confident. We went out there and drove as fast as we could. It was the right choice to stay on wet tyres.”
The German’s third flying lap before handing over to Marcel Fassler was what sealed it, a 1:53.201 to give the #7 a good buffer heading into the second half of the session.
Porsche ran quickest throughout the practice sessions, but in the greasy conditions couldn’t manage higher than third.
The #8 Audi, which was on course to set a pole time until Lucas Di Grassi went off at Vale on his final flying lap, set an average time of 1:58.538 with Loic Duval setting the first time. The pair were just 0.104 off the #7.
A further eight tenths back was the first of the Porsche 919s, the #1 with Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber in to qualify the car, the pair’s average was 1:54.266, a tenth quicker than the sister #2 919 which will line up fourth tomorrow.
Toyota ended up with its TS050s fifth and sixth, five and 7 seconds off the faster Audi. A very tough start to the season for them.
By Kolles will start on pole in LMP1-L after neither Rebellion R-One set an average time.
LMP2 will start with the #26 G-Drive Oreca on pole. Rene Rast and Romain Rusinov’s average time, a 2:07.460 was over a second clear of the other runners in the class. After an LMP2 championship-winning run in 2015 for Rusinov, it’s a perfect start to his title defence.
Second was the #31 ESM Ligier of Pipo Derani and Chris Cumming, with the RGR Sport By Morand Ligier of Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo Gonzalez third.
A top three spot was very impressive by the new Mexican squad.
In GTE Pro, Sam Bird and Davide Rigon steered the #71 AF Corse 488 to pole position on the new car’s debut.
“It was really difficult for me,” said Bird. It was my first time in the wet in the car. It was hard but we did it.
“The track went from wet to greasy at the end, it was more difficult at the end.”
Initially, it looked like the sister AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado would sit atop the screens, but drama during the session means the car will have to start from the back.
After Bruni climbed aboard the 488, following Calado’s 2:11.589, which was good enough for provisional pole – Bruni had to pull into the pits before he could set a flying lap, meaning the pair didn’t have an average.
The mechanics were frantically working on the engine bay on what Sam Bird described as an ‘electrical burning smell’.
Nevertheless, AF Corse still managed pole, and with an average over a second clear of the second placed Dempsey Proton Porsche which with Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen at the wheel finished with an average of 2:13.822.
Third fastest was the #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla, in what was a very promising run for the car which has had very limited wet running. The car was 2 seconds off pole in the end.
Fourth overall in GTE, but pole in GTE Am was the Abu Dhabi Racing Porsche – scoring its first ever pole. Klaus Bachler and Khaled Al Qubaisi were delighted to be able start at the front.
“The car was so good, we have pole by two seconds!” exclaimed Bachler. “We are really happy, perfect start to the season. The setup worked perfectly.”
Behind them, the KCMG Porsche and Larbre Competition Corvettes.
The opening round of the World Endurance Championship is due to get underway at Silverstone tomorrow at 12:00pm local time in the UK.