Audi Sport Team Joest’s No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro claimed pole position for Sunday’s 6 Hours of Fuji, despite the strongest of challenges from Toyota Racing’s No. 8 TS030 Hybrid, the two cars being just 0.178 seconds apart at the checkered flag.
Japanese resident and reigning FIA WEC World Champion, André Lotterer, together with Benoît Tréluyer, produced an average time of 1:26.577 over the four best laps for each driver to take pole position.
The German-French duo edged out the No. 8 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson by a scant margin, with the Japanese team’s No. 7 entry, driven by Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre, only one tenth of a second behind in third place on the grid.
Their best average time of 1:26.860 was favorably ahead of the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Allan McNish-Loïc Duval), with Lapierre surviving an off-track moment during his time behind the wheel.
The No. 12 Rebellion Racing LMP1 Privateer entry continued its unchallenged run in its micro-class with Andrea Belicchi – making his return for the first time since the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and Mathias Beche setting a fastest average time of 1:29.250 in the Lola-Toyota.
The LMP2 class was once again a very closely-fought battle between at least five different challengers, with the No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan coming out on top.
Bertrand Baguette and Martin Plowman combined to set the fastest time to claim class pole position, their best average of 1:32.938 being just 0.081 seconds ahead of the No. 26 G Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan.
The Russian car, driven in qualifying by Mike Conway and John Martin, bounced back after Conway spun off track early in the session. Third in class was the Japanese Gainer International entry, the No.27 Zytek Z11SN Nissan being driven in qualifying by Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Björn Wirdheim, whose combined average time was 1:33.073.
Just 0.19 seconds separated the second to fifth place LMP2 cars, which would indicate that a great battle is ahead in tomorrow’s race.
Fred Makowiecki and Stefan Mucke claimed pole position in the GTE-Pro class with an average time of 1:38.114, with Makowiecki, in the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage, setting the fastest of the four laps that count toward the average time.
It was a 1-2 for Aston Martin after the No. 99 Vantage of Pedro Lamy and Ritchie Stanaway was 0.477 seconds behind their flying teammates.
The No. 51 Ferrari 458 of Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni will head the second row, with the championship leaders 0.044 ahead of the two Porsches, with the No. 91 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Jorg Bergmeister just 0.042 ahead of the No. 92 car of Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz.
The No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari didn’t take part in the session due to an ongoing problem with the fuel system on the 458, which the team says will be fixed ahead of the race. The Ferrari will have to start at the back of the grid.
Aston Martin also claimed pole position in the GTE-Am class with the No. 95 Vantage of Bruno Senna and Christoffer Nygaard posting an average time of 1:40.649.
There was a tussle for the top spot with the No. 50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette of Fernando Rees and Julien Canal, but the Brazilian/French duo had to settle for second after their average time was just 0.165 slower their Brazilian/Danish rivals.
Aston Martin will also head up row two on the GTE-Am grid, with double race winners Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall posting a 1:40.825 average, 0.4 seconds ahead of Paolo Ruberti and Christian Ried in the No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche.
The No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Rui Aguas was the fastest of the three 458s, with the No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Jean-Karl Vernay and Marcus Palttala taking the final grid position for Sunday’s race.