Thursday’s qualifying sessions at Le Mans produced more incidents and red flags. However, when the cars were running, it also produced some stunning images. Here, in the second of our galleries, we’ve highlighted the battle between the top three LMP1-H teams; Audi, Porsche and Toyota to claim pole position.
Toyota Racing – TS040 HYBRID
Whilst pole position ahead of a 24 hour long race is largely academic it does, at least, allow that team to score big marketing points if not actual World Endurance Championship ones. For 2014 it was the #7 Toyota TS040 HYBRID of Kazuki Nakajima, Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin who claimed the symbolic top grid spot. Current World Endurance Championship leaders of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi managed to secure third place in the #8 car. A strong showing from Toyota, but Le Mans is a much different beast to the 6 Hour races the team has done so well in this year.
Porsche Team – 919 Hybrid
Porsche surpassed Audi as dominant Volkswagen Group competitor in qualifying, after displaying promise in practice. The #14 car of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb securing second on the grid, with the #20 car of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley lining up proving to be 4th fastest. Does the 919 Hybrid have the reliability to last the full 24 hours in its first year of competition?
Audi Sport Team Joest – R18 e-tron quattro
Despite dominating Le Mans for what seems like an eternity – 12 wins in the last 14 years – 5th place for the #3 R18 e-tron quattro of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis was the Ingolstadt marque’s highest position. Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer qualified 6th in the #2 car, whilst the #1 car of Lucas Di Grassi, Marc Gene and Tom Kristensen were lucky to be on the grid at all, let alone 7th, after Loïc Duval’s horrendous crash on Wednesday. Although not the fastest in qualifying, with such a prodigious history only a fool would discount Audi from the potential to take top honours on Sunday.
We’ll say this; on the quality of their press photography we think Porsche deserve to win Le Mans this year. However, decent snaps are no representation of on-track performance. Keep waiting; there’s not long until we find out who will take top honours.