Audi will start Sunday’s Six Hours of Sao Paulo from the pole after sweeping the front row in qualifying for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Defending World Champions Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer teamed for a best four-lap average of 1:21.303 in the 25-minute prototype qualifying session, which will see the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro start from the top spot tomorrow.
“We tried to push as hard as possible,” said Fassler. “As you’ve seen, the third lap is quite competitive to the second one and fastest one. I think it’s quite good for the average. I think this additional one lap doesn’t hurt us so much. I think for me, this was a crucial thing to finish it.
The German manufacturer, fresh off its 12th overall victory at Le Mans, has shown the upper hand at Interlagos, with the No. 2 Audi of Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval qualifying second, just 0.050 seconds behind its sister car’s pole-winning time. They’ll be joined by rapid Scot Allan McNish tomorrow.
Toyota’s efforts, reduced to a single-car LMP1 entry this weekend, will see the No. 8 entry of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin roll off third in class. Davidson and Buemi teamed for an average of 1:21.580, nearly three-tenths slower than the pole-sitting Audi.
Rebellion Racing, the lone LMP1 Privateer car in the field, will start fourth overall.
The new-for-2013 WEC qualifying format, which requires two timed laps by two drivers per car, produced some excitement in most classes, including LMP2, which went the way of G-Drive by Delta-ADR’s Mike Conway and John Martin.
The duo in the No. 26 Oreca 03 Nissan combined for an average of 1:27.335, nearly a half-second ahead of the similarly prepared, but Michelin-shod No. 49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan. The Le Mans class-winning No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan posted the third quickest time in class.
“My two laps were alright. I thought my third one could have been quicker,” said Conway, who will share driving duties with Martin and Roman Rusinov. “Obviously over the average, I knew I had to give John some better tires, so I aborted that lap and came in. John did two good laps as well, enough to give us P1.”
Richie Stanaway and Pedro Lamy gave Aston Martin Racing pole in GTE-Pro. The duo drove the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 to best average of 1:33.340 to lead the way in the production-based ranks.
The duo, who will be joined by GRAND-AM champion Paul Dalla Lana, edged out the Le Mans class-winning No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz by 0.120 seconds.
It marked AMR’s fourth consecutive pole but the first for 21-year-old Stanaway, in only the New Zealander’s second-ever sports car start.
“It’s definitely quite a meaningful result for me,” Stanaway said. “All throughout Free Practice, we focused a lot on trying to discover what to do for the race strategy. We didn’t really know where we’d stand [heading] into qualifying.”
The No. 97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke will line up third in class, thanks to a 1:33.483 average.
Top qualifying honors in GTE-Am had initially gone to the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin, who combined for a 1:34.577 average.
However, the car was found to have had a ride height infringement, handing the class pole to the No. 95 Aston Martin of Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim, who replaces the late Allan Simonsen in the all-Danish entry this weekend.
The No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari will now line up second in class.
The Six Hours of Sao Paulo gets underway Sunday at 12 p.m. local (11 a.m. ET).