Sebastien Bourdais says the track surface at Le Mans has deteriorated this year, with the non-resurfaced sections suffering during the cold winter.
The Peugeot driver too provisional pole in first qualifying, but found circuit conditions tough.
"For sure the new surface at the Porsche Curves is more grippy, but it's also more tricky because the difference in grip between the racing line and off the line is huge. It feels wider, too," Bourdais told AUTOSPORT. "But I'm surprised because the rest of the track has basically gone south. We had a really bad winter and the road section has deteriorated. It's much more bumpy, and going from one side of the road to the other the crest is much sharper. The car bottoms out and even though we raised the ride height, we're still bottoming quite heavily."
Despite this, Bourdais said he thoroughly enjoyed his run to the fastest time in Wednesday night's opening qualifying session.
"For me it's even more special because I live here," said the former Champ Car star. "It's not a win but it gives a very satisfying feeling.
"In the first qualifying session, my quick time was like the 95 percent lap, when you have a pretty good feeling that you're not going to hit any traffic. And then when I got out of Arnage I saw nobody ahead, and I thought, 'This is your one shot, because it happens once every 10 years...' I was sure that so long as I didn't screw it up it would be the decisive lap."
He confirmed that Peugeot is allowing all its crews to fight it out for pole this year, which has not always been the case in the past.
"I think the first year, 2007, when there was a head-to-head between Stephane [Sarrazin] and Nico [Minassian], I think that's the only time when there was a fight for pole within the team," Bourdais.
"That's not to take anything away from Stephane because he did a really good job, but he was the only one who was really in qualifying mode. Even yesterday [Wednesday] in qualifying we did two stints on the same tires with full tanks.
"In previous years, Stephane was the one elected to do it – he was very reliable and he could pull it off at night, which is very risky. This year it was said that all three cars could have a shot at it."