Porsche takes final WEC pole of 2017

#1 Porsche speeds to pole
#1 Porsche speeds to pole

Neel Jani (CH) and Nick Tandy (GB) have achieved the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s 20th pole position in what was the Le Mans Prototype’s last qualifying. Together with Andre Lotterer (DE), they will head into the final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on Saturday in Bahrain.

The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez held top spot for much of the session but was denied a fifth pole of the season in the closing minutes by Porsche #1. They will start from second.

It was a more challenging qualifying for the #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima which will start from fourth.

Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) – the trio that was crowned as new driver world champions two weeks ago in Shanghai – qualified third for the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s farewell race.

In the short 20 minute WEC qualifying session it is the average time of the two fastest laps of two drivers that counts. Jani/Tandy (1:39.383 minutes) and Bernhard/Hartley (1:40.011 minutes) were on duty at the Persian Gulf for the final qualifying. The overall fastest lap was achieved by Jani in 1:39.084 minutes.

#7 Toyota to start outside of row 1
#7 Toyota to start outside of row 1

The 919 Hybrid’s impressive tally since its debut back in 2014 reads: 20 pole positions from 34 races with 13 front row lock-outs. Remarkably in the 2015 season when three manufacturers competed in LMP1, only the 919s made it on to the front row.

The majority of the race will take place in darkness so qualifying also took place after sunset.

Andre Negrao and Gustavo Menezes took LMP2 pole for the Signatech Alpine squad.

Negrao was second fastest after the first runs aboard the French team's ORECA-Gibson 07 while Menezes lapped within three tenths of his teammate's time.

AF Corse Ferrari drivers Davide Rigon and Sam Bird claimed a fourth GTE Pro pole of the year.

Rigon posted the fastest time in class with a 1m56.021s in the first runs and then Bird was only a couple of hundredths slower as they set end up on a 1m59.033ss average aboard the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE.

Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana took a seventh GTE Am class pole of the season in their Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

Quotes

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): "I thought to myself, this is the last ever qualifying session for the 919 Hybrid and I have to use everything I’ve learned over the past four years . . . and obviously this was successful. I’m mega happy that we got pole-position here. Nick’s lap in his second attempt was good too. I've taken quite a lot of poles with the 919, like the very first one together with Marc Lieb at Spa in 2014 and now the very last one. So far this part of the 919's story is full circle for me. But tomorrow we want to bring the last win home as well!"

Nick Tandy (33, Great Britain): “To claim pole position for the 919's final race is fantastic and great for the Porsche team's morale. We put everything in to the qualifying session. We did one more run than we'd planned but it was necessary and was ultimately a good strategy. It's a super feeling being on pole!"

Polesitters Jani, Lotterer and Tandy
Polesitters Jani, Lotterer and Tandy

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “A tough qualifying. The balance was different to what we had in Free Practice and not 100% perfect. P3 seemed to be the maximum we could achieve today. But congratulations to our 'sister' car, it was an awesome lap from Neel. Now we look forward to the race – the battle is on."

Brendon Hartley (28, New Zealand): “We started quite well and I was half a second up on the 'sister' car despite the balance being completely wrong on my first lap. After Timo's run, we decided to save our tyres for the race. It should be a good fight tomorrow."

TS050 HYBRID #7 (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez)

Free practice 3: 4th (1min 43.902secs), 24 laps

Qualifying: 2nd (1min 39.646secs average)

Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “My time was a bit compromised because I had to slow down on my out lap to get a clear track and I lost temperature in the tyres. So the first sector wasn’t perfect but the rest of the lap was good. It looked like we had pole but Porsche #1 used an extra set of tyres which we weren’t prepared to do because the race is priority for us."

Jose Maria Lopez (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am quite happy considering it’s my first time at this track in an LMP1 car. I did a good lap and was only a couple of tenths down on Mike. Every time we have started from pole position this season we haven’t achieved the main objective of winning, so maybe second place will be kinder to us!"

TS050 HYBRID #8 (Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima)

Free practice 3: 3rd (1min 43.734secs), 25 laps

Qualifying: 4th (1min 40.774secs average)

Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “We decided to use the same tyres and that was a challenge for my lap. I did the best I could but I was a bit disappointed with how it went in general. It was not the best qualifying but the race is what counts. We have shown before that we can win from the second row so I am still confident."

Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It was a difficult qualifying for me due to the traffic. Also, we decided our tyre strategy to give priority to the race. I hope that decision is going to give us a better chance tomorrow. Generally we were happy with the car; qualifying doesn’t mean much so we still have a good chance."

Starting grid

POS CLASS DRIVER TEAM CAR GAP
1 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, N.Tandy Porsche LMP Team Porsche 1m39.383s
2 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 0.263s
3 LMP1 T.Bernhard, E.Bamber, B.Hartley Porsche LMP Team Porsche 0.628s
4 LMP1 S.Buemi, A.Davidson, K.Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 1.391s
5 LMP2 N.Lapierre, G.Menezes, A.Negrao Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 7.844s
6 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, O.Jarvis, T.Laurent Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 8.229s
7 LMP2 J.Canal, N.Prost, B.Senna Vaillante Rebellion ORECA/Gibson 8.338s
8 LMP2 R.Rusinov, L.Roussel, L.Duval G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 8.606s
9 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, S.Trummer, V.Petrov CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA/Gibson 8.793s
10 LMP2 M.Rao, B.Hanley, J-E.Vergne CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA/Gibson 8.991s
11 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, E.Collard TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 9.003s
12 LMP2 M.Beche, D.H.Hansson, N.Piquet Jr. Vaillante Rebellion ORECA/Gibson 9.004s
13 LMP2 D.Cheng, A.Brundle, T.Gommendy Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 9.719s
14 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 16.650s
15 GTE Pro D.Turner, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 16.989s
16 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 17.080s
17 GTE Pro J.Calado, A.P.Guidi AF Corse Ferrari 17.498s
18 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 17.636s
19 GTE Pro R.Lietz, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 18.133s
20 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre Porsche GT Team Porsche 18.139s
21 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 20.728s
22 GTE Am Mok W.S., K.Sawa, M.Griffin Clearwater Racing Ferrari 20.902s
23 GTE Am C.Ried, M.Cairoli, M.Dienst Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 21.012s
24 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, M.Molina Spirit of Race Ferrari 21.969s
25 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford
26 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, N.Foster Gulf Racing Porsche

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