Porsche 1-2-3 in Qualifying 1 at Le Mans

Neel Jani sizzles in Qualifying 1 to lead Porsche to an ominous 1-2-3

Neel Jani sizzles in Qualifying 1 to lead Porsche to an ominous 1-2-3

Neel Jani has led the Porsche LMP1 team to sweep the top three positions in a red flag marred opening qualifying session for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hour.

Just as he did last year, Jani trumped the two-hour Wednesday night qualifying as the leading pace rocketted by more than 4s on the corresponding session in 2014.

Jani, sharing the #18 with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, obliterated the previous qualifying record by just under two seconds with his 3:16.88s best around the 13.6km circuit.

Timo Bernhard had previously bettered the 2009 qualifying record with a 3:17.76s in the #17 Porsche he will share with Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley.

Bernhard would hang on to second spot with the #19 Porsche of Nick Tandy registering a 3:19.29s best in third.

“You’ve got to have a great deal of respect for the drivers if you look at these lap times,” said Fritz Enzinger, the vice president of Porsche’s LMP1 operation.

“Today was a great team effort and a nice first step into Le Mans 2015, but it isn’t anything more than this yet.

“The entire team has to cope with huge expectations and managed that. I especially want to thank them for that. Tomorrow we will see how the track conditions develop.”

Harry Tincknell helped move the #22 Nissan he is sharing with Michael Krumm and Alex Buncombe up to 21st late  in qualifying

Harry Tincknell helped move the #22 Nissan he is sharing with Michael Krumm and Alex Buncombe up to 21st late in qualifying. pic: PSP Images

Audi was left reeling at the power of Porsche with the #8 R18 e-tron quattro of Loic Duval fourth, followed by the four-ringed stablemates of the #9 in fifth and the #7 in sixth.

Toyota saw its #2 TS040 Hybrid finish seventh fastest with Stephane Sarrazin at the wheel but a long way off Porsche’s mesmerising pace.

The world champion #1 TS040 of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima was left well out of the equation in eighth, the best part of 7s behind the quickest Porsche.

Nissan had what it would describe as a decent maiden qualifying run with its trio of GT-R LM NISMOs as it concentrated on cycling its drivers through the necessary amount of laps at nightfall.

The leader of the Nissan group was Jann Mardenborough in the #23 which was 12th fastest.

Brit Harry Tincknell improved late to claim 21st while the Le Mans-only #21 entry was 31st for Lucas Ordonez.

Mardenborough says the GT-R is sharpening with each session as Nissan has arrived at the toughest motor race in the world without a previous single competitive WEC start for the front-engine, front-drive machines.

“The car feels more and more sorted with each run and there are still a lot of things we can do to improve it, such as dropping the front ride height to work better with the aero tunnels,” Mardenborough said.

Richie Stanaway was fastest in the GTE Pro class in the Aston Martin Racing Vantage

Richie Stanaway was fastest in the GTE Pro class in the Aston Martin Racing Vantage. pic: PSP Images

Richard Bradley led the way in LMP2 with the Hong Kong-based KCMG entry clocking 3:38.03s to be 11th overall.

Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou received a nasty scare when he crashed the #41 Greaves Gibson Nissan heavily at the Mulsanne Corner which would out the red flag at the midpoint of qualifying.

It forced the session into a lengthy delay before it was waved green again with just over 30 minutes remaining before the strict midnight finish.

Kiwi Richie Stanaway helped Aston Martin to the best GTE Pro time in the #99 Vantage while Pedro Lamy saw the #98 lead the Am class.

Webber had earlier topped the times in the four-hour practice session that was interspersed with wet running.

With weather unstable in the Le Mans area the scintillating pace Porsche displayed may yet not be surpassed for final qualifying which finishes at midnight Thursday (local time).

See below for full qualifying results

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time
1 LMP1 N. Jani, R. Dumas, M Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 3m16.887s
2 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 3m17.767s
3 LMP1 N.Hulkenberg, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche Team Porsche 3m19.297s
4 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m19.866s
5 LMP1 F.Albuquerque, M.Bonanomi, R.Rast Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m21.081s
6 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m21.839s
7 LMP1 A.Wurz, S.Sarrazin, M.Conway Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.543s
8 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.767s
9 LMP1 N.Prost, M.Beche, N.Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m26.874s
10 LMP1 A.Imperatori, D.Kraihamer, D.Abt Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m31.933s
11 LMP2 M.Howson, R.Bradley, N.Lapierre KCMG ORECA/Nissan 3m38.032s
12 LMP1 O.Pla, J.Mardenborough, M.Chilton Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m38.468s
13 LMP2 G.Hirsch, G.Paletou, J.Lancaster Greaves Motorsport Gibson/Nissan 3m38.958s
14 LMP2 S.Dolan, M.Evans, O.Turvey JOTA Gibson/Nissan 3m39.004s
15 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.Canal, S.Bird G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m39.867s
16 LMP2 P.Thiriet, T.Gommendy, L.Badey Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m39.923s
17 LMP2 C.Cumming, L.Vanthoor, K.Estre Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m40.058s
18 LMP1 S.Trummer, P.Kaffer, T.Monteiro Team ByKolles CLM/AER 3m40.368s
19 LMP2 N.Panciatici, P-L.Chatin, V.Capillaire Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan 3m40.438s
20 LMP2 G.Yacaman, L.Derani, R.Gonzalez G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m40.967s
21 LMP1 H.Tincknell, M.Krumm, A.Buncombe Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m41.400s
22 LMP2 P.Ragues, O.Webb, Z.Amberg Team SARD Morand Morgan/SARD 3m42.015s
23 LMP2 L.Roussel, D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung Pegasus Racing Morgan/Nissan 3m42.023s
24 LMP2 M.Mediani, D.Markozov, N.Minassian SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.077s
25 LMP2 N.Leventis, D.Watts, J.Kane Strakka Racing Dome/Nissan 3m42.237s
26 LMP2 M.Aleshin, K.Ladygin, A.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.417s
27 LMP2 K.Chandhok, M.Patterson, N.Berthon Murphy Prototypes ORECA/Nissan 3m44.513s
28 LMP2 S.Sharp, R.Dalziel, D.Hansson Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m44.675s
29 LMP2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, J.Barbosa Krohn Racing Ligier/Judd 3m44.899s
30 LMP2 P.Perret, I.Bellarosa, J.Ibanez Ibanez Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m45.350s
31 LMP1 T.Matsuda, M.Shulzhitskiy, L.Ordonez Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m45.807s
32 LMP2 E.Brown, J.van Overbeek, J.Fogarty Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m46.165s
33 LMP2 J.Nicolet, J-M.Merlin, E.Maris Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m52.843s
34 GTE Pro F.Rees, A.MacDowall, R.Stanaway Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m54.928s
35 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.102s
36 GTE Pro G.Bruni, T.Vilander, G.Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.306s
37 GTE Pro D.Turner, S.Mucke, R.Bell Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.466s
38 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, C.Nygaard, N.Thiim Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.783s
39 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, R.Briscoe Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m55.963s
40 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 3m56.723s
41 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, J.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m57.081s
42 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen, J.Bergmeister Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m57.192s
43 GTE Pro D.Rigon, J.Calado, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari 3m57.216s
44 GTE Am V.Shaitar, A.Bertolini, A.Basov SMP Racing Ferrari 3m57.271s
45 GTE Pro P.Pilet, F.Makowiecki, W.Henzler Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m57.667s
46 GTE Am C.Ried, K.Al Qubaisi, K.Bachler Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 3m58.259s
47 GTE Am P.Mann, R.Giammaria, M.Cressoni AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.478s
48 GTE Am P.Dempsey, P.Long, M.Seefried Dempsey Racing – Proton Porsche 3m58.822s
49 GTE Am B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 3m58.946s
50 GTE Am J.Bleekemolen, B.Keating, M.Miller Riley Motorsports-Ti Auto SRT/Dodge 3m59.054s
51 GTE Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Mortimer AF Corse Ferrari 3m59.091s
52 GTE Am G.Roda, P.Ruberti, K.Poulsen Larbre Competition Chevrolet 3m59.522s
53 GTE Am A.Al Faisal, K.Giermaziak, M.Avenatti JMW Motorsport Ferrari 4m00.551s
54 GTE Am R.Goethe, S.Hall, F.Castellacci Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 4m01.160s
55 GTE Am H.C.Chen, G.Vannelet, M.Parisy Team AAI Porsche 4m03.117s
56 GTE Am J.San Chen, A.Kapadia, X.Maassen Team AAI Porsche 4m04.827s

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