Porsche locked out the front row for tomorrow’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Mexico with the pair of 919 Hybrids starting from first and second places on the grid.
Brendan Hartley set the fastest lap of the session to put the #2 car he qualified together with Timo Bernhard onto pole position with the pair setting an average time of 1:24.562, less than two tenths ahead of Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy in the sister #1 car.
“The boys and girls at Porsche gave us a car which was pretty much perfect from the word go.” said Hartley after qualifying “There is a lot that goes on engineering wise to get the car optimised for the altitude here so it has been a great job and made our life easier. The car was awesome and it was a pretty tidy first lap.
“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.”
Despite rain falling, Toyota pushed throughout the session for pole and take the second row with the #7 TS050 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez starting third and the #8 fourth, both cars under 0.9s off the pace of the #1.
In LMP2 pole honours went to Signatech Alpine Matmut with André Negrão and Nicolas Lapierre setting a combined time of 1:32.809 in the #36 Alpine A470. Two tenths behind them were Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 with the #31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca with Bruno Senna and Nicholas Prost setting an average of 1:33.605.
“We have started very well and the team have done a great job.” Negrão said post session. “I am very happy for my lap, there was little lock-up at the last corner but in the end it was a good lap.”
Sam Bird was the man to catch in LM GTE Pro setting the session’s fastest lap to put the #71 AF Corse Ferrari he shares with Davide Rigon onto class pole, the pair averaging 1:39.425, eclipsing last year’s pole time of 1:40.45 by over a second!
Snapping at the Ferrari’s heels were Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen in the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage, the Danish pairing just a tenth of a second behind. Third went to Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK’s #67 Ford GT with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell combining to average 1.39.640. The pace shown in the Pro class indicating this could be the race-within-the-race with less than a second separating the entire field!
Interviewed after the session, Sam Bird said: “I’m very happy, not only for myself personally but also for the whole team. We worked extremely hard today and in the correct way. The set-up changes we made were positive and we executed them well.
“I’m delighted to be back as it is a long time since I have driven the car and I thought I might be a little bit rusty. The last time I drove the car was at Le Mans, but it wasn’t the case and I fitted straight back in and it is great to be on pole.”
In LM GTE Am Matteo Cairoli again showed his metal being the fastest driver in the class. Together with Christian Ried he pushed the ageing Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR to a qualifying average time of 1:42.056 for class pole.
“It has been a really good weekend so far and the car has been really strong and we just need to be keeping working hard in this direction. We know we have a strong car for the race.” said Cairoli. “I am in a great team and have strong teammates and I think we can have some good confidence going in to the race tomorrow.”
One tenth of a second adrift of the Porsche were Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana in the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage. The #86 Gulf Racing UK 911 took third, Clearwater Racing’s #61 Ferrari fourth and the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari closed out the class somewhat off the overall pace.