In the FIA World Endurance Championship, two drivers per car qualify and the average of each driver’s best lap determines their time. Porsche LMP Team’s André Lotterer turned in the fastest lap of the whole weekend during his time in the car, but it was not enough to give Porsche the pole.
Toyota GAZOO Racing No. 7 driven by Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi turned in an average lap time of 98.118 seconds (117.373 mph) to claim the pole for Sunday’s 6 Hours of the Nürburgring. Lopez and Kobayashi’s best laps were separated by only seven-hundredths of a second.
Porsche LMP Team’s No. 2 qualified by Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley will start second, a tenth and a half slower than the No. 7 Toyota. While Lotterer’s time was a full two-tenths of a second faster than Lopez’s best effort, he was nearly eight-tenths of a second faster than teammate Neel Jani. As a result, the No. 1 will start third. The No. 8 Toyota (qualified by Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima) will start fourth in class.
In LMP2, G-Drive Racing’s No. 26 originally claimed the class pole. However, they were stripped of the pole after being found in violation of the LMP2 Technical Regulations. Specifically, the No. 26 was found to have violated Article 3.5.6d, which indicates that a maximum of 5 mm can worn off of the skid block. As a result, all times were eliminated for the car. Ben Hanley (who turned in the fastest lap of the weekend during the session), Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet will have to start the race Sunday from the rear.
The penalty makes this weekend into even more of a struggle for G-Drive Racing. The team was already going to have to serve a stop and three minute hold in the pits due to the crash that eliminated them at Le Mans. Rusinov was judged to be at fault and penalized. Since he was unable to continue after the crash, the penalty carried over to this week.
Le Mans class winners Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent put the Jackie Chan DC Racing No. 38 ORECA 07-Gibson on pole with an average lap of 105.197 seconds (109.475 mph). Jarvis and Laurent were nearly a half-second faster than the No. 31 Vaillante REBELLION entry shared by Julien Canal and Bruno Senna. The car was repaired after a crash in Free Practice No. 1 on Friday.
Vaillante REBELLION’s No. 13, driven in the session by Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson, will start third in class, followed by André Negrao and Nelson Panciatici in the No. 35 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry. The No. 25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 of Roberto Gonzalez and Vitaly Petrov will start fifth in class.
In GTE-Pro, Porsche GT Team’s Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre won the class pole with an average lap time of 114.007 seconds (101.015 mph). It is the first pole position for the current 911 RSR. The No. 92’s pole run was helped greatly by Christensen turning in the fastest GTE-Pro lap of the whole weekend.
Christensen and Estre were a third of a second faster than Aston Martin Racing’s Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim. Porsche GT Team’s No. 91 for Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki will start third, followed by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 for Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla. AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari for Davide Rigon and Toni Vilander (subbing for Sam Bird) will start fifth in class.
Finally, Aston Martin Racing’s Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy will start from the GTE-Am pole with an average lap time of 116.721 seconds (98.666 mph). The average lap was four-tenths of a second faster than Dempsey Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche for Matteo Cairoli and Christian Ried. Spirit of Race’s No. 54 Ferrari will start third.
A couple of quick penalty notes. First, the No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07-Gibson has been given a seven minute stop and hold penalty as a result of contact under the red flag during Free Practice No. 2 on Friday. Jonathan Hirschi made contact while trying to illegally overtake the No. 66 Ford GT of Mücke. A seven minute hold,plus the time to drive down the pit lane means that the penalty is effectively a four-lap penalty.
The penalty to Hirschi stemmed from the red flag for a credentialed photographer wandering onto the live part of the course. The penalty for that is very stiff. According to Daily SportsCar, the penalty for the unnamed photographer is nothing short of banishment. Not only did he have his credentials pulled, but he was escorted off the property. He is forever banned from ever working at any event that the ACO sanctions. That includes the FIA World Endurance Championship, the flagship 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series. In addition, his actions would more than likely be grounds for termination by his employer.
The 6 Hours of the Nürburgring is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday morning. The race will air live for the first five hours on FOX Sports 1. At Noon, the race will be be exclusive to FOX Sports GO for the final hour and post-race coverage.
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