After topping two of the three practice sessions, Porsche LMP Team’s 919 Hybrids are set to start tomorrow’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Mexico from first and second on the grid.
The #2 was the quicker of the two in Qualifying, and will start from Pole Position, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley combining for a 1:24.562 average, ahead of the #1 which was less than two tenths off with a 1:24.710 from Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy.
Toyota did push for Pole though, and both its TS050s as a result, finished within a second. All the way to the flag, even with rain coming down, the team attempted to snatch the top spot, sending out the #7 out at the very end of the session with Jose Maria Lopez at the wheel. Ultimately though, Lopez was unable to improve, as the Argentinian got held up on his final flyer by the #37 Jackie Chan DC ORECA.
The #7 will start third with an average of 1:24.802, with the #8 behind, completing the second row in fourth with a 1:25.378.
“It came right at the end, but they’d been predicting rain all weekend, we used one set of tyres to keep our options open for the race,” Hartley said after the session. “We thought it was too wet for Toyota to take it at the end. They’d have had to do a big lap to get Pole from us.”
In LMP2, it was tight too, the top three finishing within a second. Signatech Alpine’s A460 scored the class Pole thanks to a combined effort from Andre Negrao – debuting with the #36 this weekend – and later Nicolas Lapierre, the pair setting a 1:32.809 average.
“It’s a great Pole for the team, three tenths is a good gap,” said Lapierre. “We thought it would be tricky with the weather but in the end we managed to get a few dry laps in. We’ll be fighting for the win tomorrow.”
Behind, the championship-leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 Gibson after a 1:33.105 from Ho Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent took the second spot on the class’ front row, pushing the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA to third.
Outside the top three, the #26 G-Drive Racing after Roman Rusinov and Alex Lynn set laps will start fourth. The #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECAs completed the top five.
In GTE Pro, the #71 AF Corse Ferrari took its second Pole of the season, with Sam Bird and Davide Rigon combining for a 1:39.425 time that was just a tenth faster than the chasing pack. Rigon and Bird’s effort also broke the Pole record from 2016, which was a 1:40.45.
Behind, after a late charge to nab which proved unsuccessful, the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage took second.
“I had one mistake on the track limits, so I lost three tenths in my lap, but Sam put it all together, he did a fantastic job.” Rigon said.
Early in the session it looked like the #67 Ford GT would take the top spot, Andy Priaulx putting the car on provisional Pole, but multiple improvements towards the end of the session pushed himself and Harry Tincknell down to third in the class after Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen in the aforementioned #95 Aston slotted in second.
Fourth, completing the second row in the GTE class was the sister Ford GT of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla, ahead of the No. 97 Aston Martin which broke into the top five.
In Am, the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche – which won its first race of the season last time out at the Nürburgring – will start from Pole, after Matteo Cairoli and Christian Reid starred and set an average time of 1:42.166. It bookended a near perfect pre-race performance from Dempsey Proton and in particular, Cairoli, who has proven to be the driver to beat so far in GTE Am.
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana ended up second, just four hundredths of a second back, Lamy unable to improve after multiple attempts at the end of the session.
The Gulf Racing UK Porsche, which like the Dempsey Proton 911, has been a pace setter this weekend so far, took third in the five car class.
Tomorrow’s 6 Hours of Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, situated in the heart of Mexico City, is set to get underway at 12:00pm local time.