Porsche will start this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans from the front three positions on the grid, after dominating qualifying.
Neel Jani’s lap of 3m16.887s, set on Wednesday night, was good enough to ensure the #18 Porsche entry pole – the German marque’s first at Le Mans since 1997.
The Swiss driver’s lap is the fastest pole time recorded at Le Sartre since the introduction of the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.
The #17 Porsche will start second, after Bernhard’s best lap on Wednesday, while the #19 car of Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy was third quickest.
The three Audi e-tron quattros will line up fourth, fifth and sixth, with Loic Duval the fastest of the three entries in the #8 car, ahead of 2014 winners Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in the #7 machine.
Felipe Alberquerque improved in the final session, but the #9 Audi will stay sixth overall.
Toyota was forced to settle for seventh and eighth on the grid, the #2 car qualified by Stephane Sarrazin ahead of the reigning champions in the #1 machine.
The two debuting Rebellion entries will start ninth and 10th, while Pierre Kaffer jumped privateers ByKolles up the order to 11th after he found time in the red-flag shortened second qualifying session.
Harry Tincknell improved in the dying stages of qualifying to end up as the quickest of the three Nissans, lapping 12th fastest in the #22 car – some 20s off Jani’s record pole time from Wednesday in the Porsche.
Tincknell’s late improvement dropped the #23 GT-R LM NISMO to 13th, while the #21 entry was 15th, behind the fastest of the LMP2 cars.
Richard Bradley’s lap of 3m38.023 set on Wednesday night ensured that KCMG will start from LMP2 class pole.
G-Drive ended up as the team’s closest challenger after Sam Bird lapped within a second of the pole winning KCMG deep into the final part of qualifying.
The #41 Greaves Motorsport car will start third in class, ahead of the #38 Jota Sport entry, running the same Nissan-powered Gibson 015S chassis.
Aston Martin will start from GTE Pro pole after Richie Stanaway’s 3m54.928s in the #99 Vantage from Wednesday remained unbeaten.
The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia will start from second thanks to a heroic effort from Gianmaria Bruni in the final part of qualifying, after both of the team’s GTE Pro entries were stripped of their times from Wednesday night for abusing track limits.
Pedro Lamy set the GTE-Am pace, lapping third quickest in the #98 Aston Martin, ahead of the Pro entry #97 car.
Ex-GP2 racer James Calado recovered to put the second AF Corse Ferrari into fifth overall – fourth in class.
Antonio Garcia was the fastest of the Corvettes in sixth, but team-mate Jan Magnussen suffered a heavy accident at the Porsche Curves in the second part of qualifying.
While Magnussen is unhurt, Corvette has been forced to withdraw the badly damaged #63 CR.7 from the race.
Images courtesy of WEC Media