After a disappointing showing at Le Mans, the #7 Audi R18 took pole position at the Nürburgring, with Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer combining for a 1:39.444 in tricky conditions without their injured teammate Benoit Treluyer. Both drivers managed to lap in the 1:39s.
Behind was the #8 Audi which had Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis as its nominated drivers. Together, the Spa victors managed to combine for a time that gave Audi a promising 1-2. They were just 0.266 off the #7 too with a a 1:39.710, with Jarvis’ best lap turned out to be the quickest of all the drivers, his 1:38.777 was the only lap in the 1:38 range.
“That was pretty good, when you’re first it’s good enough,” said Lotterer. “It’s good for the team after a tough Le Mans. I’m sure Ben (Treluyer) is gutted that he isn’t here to enjoy the pole position with us.
“We started on wets and we went straight to slicks. It was not so cold so the slicks worked.”
Third and fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s six-hour race will be the two Porsches. Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard combined for third with aa 1:39.861 in the #1 919, beating out the #2 of Marc Lieb and Neel Jani who set a 1:39.893.
Webber started in the #1 car and climbed aboard for end of the session when the track was dry enough for slicks, but went off at the final chicane, in its alternate layout for the weekend, on his penultimate lap and couldn’t improve enough to put the Stuttgart-based brand on the front row.
The pair of Toyotas, the #6 leading the #5, ended up fifth and sixth, 1.1 and 1.6 seconds off the pole time.
In LMP1 privateer the #13 Rebellion scored pole position, with the ByKolles CLM splitting the pair this time, with a time eight tenths off the leading R-One’s 1:46.081 average.
LMP2 saw G-Drive Racing continue its pole position streak after Rene Rast and Romian Rusinov’s laps aboard the 05R that were an average of 1:48.984.
The #26 Oreca has sat on pole at every WEC round thus far this season. The pair were the seven tenths clear of nearest runner, the #36 Signatech Alpine of Gustavo Menezes and Nelson Panciatici which ended the afternoon with a 1:49.727.
Third in the session was the Strakka Racing Gibson, which saw Lewis Williamson run extremely quickly in his qualifying debut for the team. Williamson and Jonny Kane combined for a 1:49.762, with Kane putting in a 1:49.600 and Williamson managing an impressive 1:49.924.
Rounding out the top five in the class was the #43 RGR by Morand Ligier and the #44 Manor Oreca.
GTE Pro saw the the #95 Aston Martin score the AMR team’s first pole position of the year, with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim taking it with a last gasp lap on the drying track. Thiim started in the car on intermediates, before handing over to Sorensen, who then handed the car back once again on slicks.
The pair’s average was 2:01.712, with Thiim setting a 1:59.033 on his final flyer at the end of the session. The Dane was one of only two drivers to break the two-minute barrier in the greasy conditions, the other, Gianmaria Bruni.
“In these conditions, they’re perfect for us, the intermediates worked so well,” Sorensen said after scoring his first WEC pole. “In the dry it would have been difficult, but in the end we took a risk and made it work.”
Second was the #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla, which sat on the provisional pole spot for only a few seconds before Thiim put in his lap just before the flag fell. The average for the pair was two and a half tenths slower. Third was the second Aston – the #97 of Richie Stanaway and Darren Turner, which was half a second off the sister car’s pole time.
Fourth on the grid for tomorrow in Pro is the first of AF Corse’s challengers, the #51 488 of Bruni and James Calado which consequently messed up the #71’s qualifying in the process.
Bruni took slicks early, when he got in the car, and immediately went off at the exit of the Mercedes Arena, which prompted the #71 crew to stay on intermediate tyres throughout Bird’s run at the end, which resulted in them finishing slowest in the class, five seconds off the pace! Fifth was the second of the Fords, sixth the sole Pro Proton Porsche.
Am saw the Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche claim the top spot after a great combined effort from Khaled Al Qubaisi and Patrick Long. Together, they managed a 2:06.011, narrowly beating out the KCMG Porsche by under two tenths.
The #98 Aston Martin will start from third in the GTE Am division.
Tomorrow’s race at the Nürburgring is set to start at 13:00 local time in Germany.