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Porsche Claims Maiden Le Mans GTE-Pro Pole

Retro-liveried Porsches fill out GTE-Pro front-row after three sessions of qualifying…

MPS Agency

Porsche has clinched its first-ever GTE-Pro pole position for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after Gianmaria Bruni’s Wednesday evening lap held out as the fastest over three sessions.

The Italian’s record-breaking time of 3:47.504 in the Rothmans-liveried No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR went unchallenged through the final qualifying run on Thursday night.

Bruni’s lap was 1.593 seconds faster than Michael Christensen’s second-placed No. 92 “Pink Pig” Porsche, which confirmed a front-row lockout for the manufacturer.

Bruni will share driving duties this weekend with Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki, while Christensen is partnered with Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.

Ford was on track to lock out the second row of the grid with its Nos. 66 and 68 cars, but an improvement from Ferrari’s Alessandro Pier Guidi in Q3 disrupted the largely unaltered Wednesday session order.

Pier Guidi’s 3:49.494 wedged the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE into fourth, between the times set by Olivier Pla and Dirk Mueller respectively.

Pla’s third-placed effort was 1.677 seconds off the fastest lap set by Bruni.

Another Thursday night improvement saw the No. 93 Porsche progress to sixth in the hands of Patrick Pilet, ahead of the No. 69 Ford.

All four of Porsche’s GTE-Pro entries made it into the top 10, with the No. 94 setting the eighth best time, edging in front of the No. 64 Corvette C7.R which ended qualifying with a 2.7-second deficit to pole.

The No. 67 Ford, which clipped the barriers after Tony Kanaan took a trip through the gravel at the esses, will start 11th, while the duo of BMW Team MTEK M8 GTEs ran 12th and 13th with Antonio Felix da Costa’s time of 3:50.579 holding out from the week’s first session.

Aston Martin’s two new-generation Vantage GTEs also struggled in qualifying for their 24-hour race debut.

The quickest of the pair was the No. 97, which managed a 3:52.486, putting the British marque five seconds off the class pace.

Porsche Dominates GTE-Am

Matteo Cairoli extended Porsche’s impressive qualifying form into GTE-Am, where the manufacturer’s customer teams scored a 1-2-3 result.

Cairoli set a Wednesday time of 3:50.728 that went on to give the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing car the ultimate edge, although it later stopped on track with an apparent issue in Q3.

Dempsey-Proton was on course for a class one-two having led through the first two sessions, until Ben Barker jumped up to second in the Gulf Racing car with a 3:51.391.

The Briton’s lap pushed the No. 77 machine that Matt Campbell qualified down to third.

Best of the rest was the No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE, which clocked in at 3:51.956 with Giancarlo Fisichella at the controls, while Team Project 1’s Porsche took fourth.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Prototype 1

    June 14, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Congrats to Porsche, especially the pole going to the Rothmans Porsche.

    If the No. 91 wins this, they should keep the Rothmans livery for the rest of the Super Season.

    • John

      June 14, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      They should, like BMW did with the Z4 a few years ago.

      I understand the desire for unified branding and a consistent look, but the regular livery is so dull, especially compared to R*thmans car.

  2. Zora's bastard

    June 14, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    How do you say “last minute BoP adjustment” in french?

    Now everyone will want an engine placement waiver. Just go back to GT1 already, it was way more fun.

    • giveitarest

      June 14, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Geez, there was no “engine placement waiver”.

      Read the rules. What they did was completely within the rules.

  3. JEZ

    June 14, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Big Kudos to Porsche for going out and running their car. I imagine a BoP adjustment is coming (although they never seem to go far enough), so I appreciate that they seem to have gone for the best times and didn’t try to sandbag avoiding the BoP.

    Slow down the Porsche, speed up the Aston (and wouldn’t hurt to revert the Corvette to test day weight), and lets go racing!

    • Jaymo

      June 14, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      So you want the Corvette to weigh what they actually weighed at the test? 😂, just kidding

      • Jaymo’s tiny testicles

        June 14, 2018 at 11:23 pm

        Yup, and Porsche to run the 5+ seconds slower that they ran at the test, as did Ford, and Ferrari etc etc.

        • Jaymo

          June 15, 2018 at 8:21 am

          Oops, struck a nerve with a Corvette fanboy I see. Time to carry on

  4. Paul

    June 15, 2018 at 4:46 am

    About liveries: Ford should mimick their 1966 liveries!

  5. JamieR

    June 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

    So it’s a repeat of 2016 in the GTE ranks, albeit with Porsche this time…

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