The #7 Toyota set its pole position time with a replacement chassis after the team discovered further damage after Wednesday evening’s airborne incident with the #31 DragonSpeed ORECA.
Both Rebellions suffered engine issues with their development Gibson engines, the #3 re-emerging after an engine change in time to run for 90 minutes in the final session on Thursday evening.
The sister #1 Rebellion R13 stopped just before Arnage in the final session, a second misfortune after the team was docked all of the car’s Wednesday qualifying times due to a paperwork error, adjudged an incorrect declaration of fuel flow meter data.
The time set by Egor Orudzhev in the #17 SMP Racing BR1 AER, 3:16.159 was a massively impressive mark, faster than any qualifying time ever set here by either Porsche’s all-conquering 919 Hybrids, or Audi’s R18s, and three seconds faster than the same car managed last year.
In fact, only the Toyota TS 050 has ever lapped faster in qualifying than that mark, and has done so in all three seasons of its racing career.
The other year-on-year success story belongs to Aston Martin, the Vantage GTE going from the back of the GTE Pro grid to pole position in a single year, the qualifying time for the very same car improving by over 5 seconds, the #95 heading a line of five of the six makes in the first 5 on the class grid, only Ferrari not featuring in line astern, their fastest qualifier the #71 AF Corse car, the fastest times across all six makes covered by under 1.4 seconds.