Loic Duval snatched provisional pole position for the Le Mans 24 Hours in an opening qualifying session that was brought to a premature end by barrier damage at the second Mulsanne chicane.
Frenchman Duval, who had gone quickest in practice earlier on, put the #2 R18 e-tron quattro on top initially before improving to a 3m22.349s time that would go unbeaten for the rest of the session.
That fact was helped by the final 55 minutes of running being canceled due to barrier damage incurred when expected LMP2 front-runner Pierre Thiriet lost control of the #46 TDS ORECA-Nissan at the second Mulsanne chicane.
Thiriet was unhurt, but after a 40-minute red-flag period, race officials deemed the barriers were not able to be repaired to a satisfactory standard and declared the session 15 minutes before time. With no late improvements possible, Audi ended the day with successive 1-2-3 results.
Toyota had temporarily broken the German marque's dominance, with the #7 TS030 Hybrid of Alex Wurz/Nicolas Lapierre/Kazuki Nakajima running second early on. It dropped down the order as first Marc Gene and then Andre Lotterer improved in the #3 and #1 Audis to end the session second and third. The Toyota was fourth – 4sec down on Duval – when the red flags flew.
There was worse news for the sister #8 Toyota, which managed just 10 laps – enough to put it sixth overall – before Sebastien Buemi was forced to pull to a halt at Arnage due to a loss of power. The car was later recovered to parc ferme, but not before the session was effectively ended by Thiriet's crash.
In LMP2, IndyCar irregular Mike Conway earned his G-Drive/Delta-ADR squad the top spot with an early 3m39.535s. That proved more than a second faster than anyone else could manage. Franck Mailleux, Conway's nearest challenger in the #43 Morand Morgan-Judd, was second fastest but more than 1.2sec adrift.
It was a much tighter affair in GTE Pro, with less than a second to choose between the top seven cars. The Prodrive-run factory Aston Martin team eventually ended top of the pile courtesy of Frederic Makowiecki in the #99 Vantage, narrowly ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni/Matteo Malucelli/Giancarlo Fisichella.
The #97 and #98 Vantages, raced by Peter Dumbreck/Stefan Mucke/Darren Turner and Bill Auberlen/Paul Dalla Lana/Pedro Lamy, were third and fourth fastest respectively. Aston Martin also ended on top in GTE Am, with Christoffer Nygaard/Kristian Poulsen/Allan Simonsen narrowly edging out the lead #88 Proton Porsche 911. Simonsen was at the wheel when the car's best time was set.
Four cars failed to set a time. The #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan plus the #66 JMW and #57 Krohns Ferrari all suffered heavy damage in practice crashes while, fresh from winning a court case against its aggrieved car designer, the Lotus squad did not get its #32 LMP2-spec T128 out either.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time Gap
1. P1 Kristensen/McNish/Duval Audi 3m22.349s
2. P1 di Grassi/Gene/Jarvis Audi 3m24.341s +1.992s
3. P1 Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler Audi 3m25.474s +3.125s
4. P1 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota 3m26.676s +4.327s
5. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m30.423s +8.074s
6. P1 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota 3m30.841s +8.492s
7. P1 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m32.167s +9.818s
8. P1 Kane/Watts/Leventis Strakka HPD 3m36.547s +14.198s
9. P2 Rusinov/M.Martin/Conway Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 3m39.535s +17.186s
10. P2 Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard Morand Morgan-Judd 3m40.741s +18.392s
11. P2 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Morgan-Nissan 3m40.780s +18.431s
12. P2 Graves/Nakano/Hamilton Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 3m40.925s +18.576s
13. P2 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Morgan-Nissan 3m42.387s +20.038s
14. P2 Perez Companc/Minassian/Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan 3m43.420s +21.071s
15. P2 Thiriet/Badey/M.Martin TDS ORECA-Nissan 3m43.494s +21.145s
16. P2 Panciatici/Ragues/Gommendy Signatech ORECA-Nissan 3m43.835s +21.486s
17. P2 Hartley/Patterson/Chandhok Murphy ORECA-Nissan 3m44.538s +22.189s
18. P2 Dolan/Turvey/Luhr Jota Zytek-Nissan 3m44.835s +22.486s
19. P2 Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen Race Perf' ORECA-Judd 3m45.244s +22.895s
20. P2 Imperatori/Tung/Howson KCMG Morgan-Nissan 3m45.500s +23.151s
21. P2 Weeda/Rossiter/Bouchut Lotus-Praga 3m47.920s +25.571s
22. P2 Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot OAK Morgan-Nissan 3m48.196s +25.847s
23. P2 Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe Level 5 HPD 3m48.597s +26.248s
24. P2 Giroix/Haezebrouck/Ihara Gulf Lola-Nissan 3m49.096s +26.747s
25. P2 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Zytek-Nissan 3m49.421s +27.072s
26. P2 Mowlem/Burgess/Hirschi HVM Status Lola-Judd 3m49.805s +27.456s
27. GTP Bell/Makowiecki/Senna Aston Martin 3m55.658s +33.309s
28. GTP Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.909s +33.560s
29. GTP Dumbreck/Mucke/Turner Aston Martin 3m56.004s +33.655s
30. GTP Auberlen/Dalla Lana/Lamy Aston Martin 3m56.336s +33.987s
31. GTP Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Manthey Porsche 3m56.457s +34.108s
32. GTP Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 3m56.471s +34.122s
33. GTP Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard Manthey Porsche 3m56.573s +34.224s
34. P2 Porta/Raffin/Brandela DKR Lola-Judd 3m56.905s +34.556s
35. P2 Downs/Dagoneau/Younessi Boutsen ORECA-Nissan 3m57.139s +34.790s
36. GTA Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen Aston Martin 3m58.661s +36.312s
37. GTA Ried/Roda/Ruberti Proton Porsche 3m59.246s +36.897s
38. GTP Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette 3m59.526s +37.177s
39. GTP Westbrook/Gavin/Milner Corvette 3m59.860s +37.511s
40. GTA Milesi/Gibon/Henzler Imsa Porsche 4m00.503s +38.154s
41. GTA Hall/Goethe/Campbell-Walter Aston Martin 4m01.035s +38.686s
42. GTA Narac/Bourret/Vernay Imsa Porsche 4m01.713s +39.364s
43. GTA Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Ferrari 4m02.815s +40.466s
44. GTP Dalziel/Farnbacher/Goossens SRT Viper 4m03.127s +40.778s
45. GTA Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Porsche 4m03.378s +41.029s
46. GTP Bomarito/Kendall/Wittmer SRT Viper 4m03.461s +41.112s
47. GTA Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Corse Ferrari 4m03.966s +41.617s
48. GTA MacNeil//Rodrigues/Dumas Larbre Corvette 4m04.512s +42.163s
49. GTA Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor Larbre Corvette 4m04.873s +43.524s
50. GTA Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright 8star Ferrari 4m07.625s +45.276s
51. GTA Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Ferrari 4m09.064s +46.715s
52. GTP Collard/Perrodo/Crubile Prospeed Porsche 4m11.719s +49.370s
53. P2 Gibon/Milesi/Henzler Lotus-Praga
54. P2 Kimber-Smith/Rossi/Lux Greaves Zytek-Nissan
55. GTA Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani Krohn Ferrari
56. GTP Bertolini/Al Faisal/Al Qubaisi JMW Ferrari