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.