Porsche will start Saturday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from the pole following a thrilling damp-turned-dry qualifying session at the legendary Belgian circuit.
Marc Lieb claimed pole in the closing seconds of the 30-minute session, after climbing back behind the wheel of the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid and improving on his two initial qualifying laps set early in changing conditions.
Lieb and co-driver Neel Jani combined for a best four-lap average of 2:01.198, which edged out the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid, qualified by Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi by 0.638 seconds.
It marked the first overall pole for Porsche in only its second FIA WEC race in arguably the most action-packed qualifying session seen since the introduction of the new two-driver, four-lap average format last year.
All of the starting drivers from the factory LMP1-H squads got back in their cars to improve their times in the end, which proved to be the crucial play.
Lieb and Neel Jani will be joined by Romain Dumas in the pole-sitting No. 14 Porsche tomorrow, with Nicolas Lapierre joining Davidson and Buemi in the No. 8 Toyota, which seeks back-to-back victories.
The No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer will line up third, making it three different manufacturers in the top-three in qualifying for the second consecutive race.
Stephane Sarrazin and Kaz Nakajima pedaled the No. 7 Toyota to a 2:03.177 lap average, with the No. 20 Porsche, qualified by Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, completing the top-five overall and in class.
Only one Rebellion R-One Toyota turned laps in qualifying, with Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche combining for a 2:14.934 lap time in their ORECA-built LMP1-L entry.
LMP2 pole honors went to the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan of Richard Bradley and Alexandre Imperatori, thanks to a late flyer by the Englishman, who laid down a 2:10.165 on his final lap.
With a combined average of 2:12.103, the Hong Kong-backed entry pipped the No. 27 SMP Racing Oreca 03 Nissan of Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani, which had held class pole for the majority of the session.
The Silverstone class-winning No. 26 G-Drive Racing Morgan Nissan of Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal will start third in class with the No. 48 Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan in fourth.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps gets underway Saturday at 2:30 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET)