Porsche has claimed a surprise pole for Saturday’s WEC Six Hours of Spa ahead of rival Toyota, which had dominated the Free Practice sessions, but unable to deliver in qualifying for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Andre Lotterer and defending World Champion Neel Jani combined for a best two-lap average of 1:54.087 in the stop-start 25-minute session, which saw an early red flag for a crashed LMP2 car.
The pole came thanks to a blisteringly 1:53.756 lap time by the Swiss driver, just after the session restarted with 21 minutes to go.
The No. 1 Porsche led a trio of Toyotas, with the No. 7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi second, ahead of the Japanese manufacturer’s third, low-downforce entry, qualified by Frenchmen Stephane Sarrazin and Nico Lapierre, in his LMP1 return.
It marked the first pole for Jani since Le Mans last year, with Lotterer becoming the first driver to score poles for two different LMP1 manufacturers in the current WEC era.
The pairing will share driving duties with Nick Tandy in tomorrow’s race.
Porsche’s No. 2 entry, qualified by Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley will roll off from fifth on the grid, behind the Silverstone race-winning No. 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.
G-Drive Racing claimed LMP2 class pole honors, after the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson of Francois Perrodo lost his time for exceeding track limits in the closing moments.
It handed the top spot, for the second consecutive race to Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet, thanks to a 2:02.601 average in their Oreca, with the pairing set to team with Roman Rusinov in tomorrow’s race.
The pair of Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 Gibsons will roll off from second and third on the grid, with the No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing entry and No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca completing the top-five in class.
An accident by Vitaly Petrov in the sister Manor entry at Turn 11 brought out the red flag early in the session, which halted a number of drivers’ fast laps.
The WEC Six Hours of Spa is set for a 2:30 p.m. local time start (8:30 a.m. ET) with live coverage on FS1.