Porsche takes 1-2 after Le Mans qualifying wash-out
Rain put the skids on a showdown in final qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hour with Porsche retaining its top two positions.
The order from the opening qualifying session on Wednesday remained largely unchanged with the #2 Porsche 919 of Neel Jani, Marc Leib and Romain Dumas retaining pole.
Jani’s banker lap on Wednesday of 3:19.73s ensured back-to-back poles in the twice-around-the-clock classic for the Swiss driver.
The pole is also a milestone for Jeromy Moore, the ex-longtime engineer for Craig Lowndes, who is now the main race engineer on the #2 919 Hybrid after graduating from Performance engineer with the squad last season.
Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard will start from second in the #1 919 with Toyota’s #6 and #5 TS050 occupying the second row.
“Today’s conditions were very poor with all the water and dirt on the track,” Jani said.
“However, I’ll be the start driver and I’m very much looking forward to it.
“Last year I started from pole as well, but then we were the unluckiest of the Porsches.
“The team did everything in every detail to prepare for 2016 and I hope for some more luck this year.“
Rain soaked the 13.6km circuit for the final two-hour session after the middle qualifying session was also hampered by wet conditions.
Officials flew the red flag for more than one hour in final qualifying as four-times Le Mans 24 Hour winner Yannick Dalmas circulated in the Safety Car, at times power sliding wildly around the course.
The green flag flew for the final 40 minutes with teams playing a cautious game in the treacherous conditions.
The only change to the qualifying order was the ByKolles Racing #4 CLM P1/01 AER which set the ninth fastest time in the second qualifying session after missing Wednesday qualifying after a fuel leak caused it to catch fire in free practice.
However there was a reversal of Audi’s position, not through a qualifying time, but with the #8 dropping from fifth to sixth after it was found to have used too much fuel on its fastest lap in Wednesday qualifying.
With the conditions effectively freezing the positions from provisional qualifying, the G-Drive Oreca Nissan of Rene Rast, Will Stevens and Romain Rusinov retains the LMP2 pole.
The #68 Ford GT shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller is on pole in GTE Pro ahead of stablemates Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon in the #69 machine.
Clearwater Racing will start GTE Am from pole in the #61 Ferrari 458.
CLICK HERE for qualifying results
VIDEO: Porsche on pole