Marcel Fassler took provisional pole for Audi in the penultimate qualifying session for the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours, denying Peugeot glory in dramatic fashion.
Stephane Sarrazin looked for all the world as if he had secured the top spot for the home side only to have his 3m36.156s bested by Fassler's extraordinary lap just seconds later, with the No. 2 Audi's time a 3m25.961s.
Sarrazin, who had crossed the line moments before the checkered flag, went for it again, setting the fastest opening split time of 32.4s, only to run into traffic later in the lap, yet it was still good enough to be a 3m26.199s. You had to feel a bit for the Frenchman, for it wasn't the first time during the session that he'd been stymied in such a manner.
The three-time pole position sitter looked well on target to take the top spot 15 minutes earlier with a lap of 2m36.336s, only to then be usurped by his team-mate Marc Gene by 0.064s. Sarrazin then had another attempt about five minutes later but spun at the Dunlop chicane. He spun again on the following lap. too.
So for now at least Sarrazin remains second, just over a tenth faster than the sister No. 7 car, thanks to Gene's earlier lap.
Allan McNish put the No. 3 Audi fourth fastest, having shot to the top of the times with a 3m27.602s. That effort remained the car's best lap of the session despite Tom Kristensen climbing aboard later on.
Romain Dumas also went fastest at one point, but drifted back to fifth with the No. 1 Audi in the last gasp kerfuffle. The No. 9 Peugeot, which for the first hour of qualifying had been fastest in the hands of Franck Montagny, was sixth fastest.
The ORECA 908 HDi FAP was seventh as Loic Duval lapped in an impressive 3m30.838s. Julien Jousse was the quickest gasoline-runner for Pescarolo in eighth ahead of the two Rebellion Lolas which completed the top 10.
Soheil Ayari set the fastest LMP2 lap time of the week so far - a 3m41.458s - to lead the class for Signatech Nissan. Alex Premat was second quickest in the Oreca with Pierre Kaffer third in the Lola-Judd.
Gianmaria Bruni gave AF Corse Ferrari provisional pole in the GTE Pro class with a 3m58.040s lap – the fastest achieved in the GTs so far – to force the No. 55 BMW of Jorg Muller into second position.
The sister BMW M3 was less fortunate, having ended its session a couple of feet shorter when Andy Priaulx crashed it at the Ford chicane, apparently having run over some debris or gravel and lost purchase. The furious multiple world touring car champion then remonstrated at the marshals for not warning him sooner that the hazard was there.
There were no other major incidents, though it must be said that both Aston Martin AMR Ones endured another torrid session with various problems. The No. 007 car ending it 21st, one place ahead of the No. 009 sister machine.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. LMP1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi R18 TDI 3m25.961s
2. LMP1 Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian Peugeot 908 3m26.156s
3. LMP1 Gene/Wurz/Davidson Peugeot 908 3m26.272s
4. LMP1 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller Audi R18 TDI 3m27.602s
5. LMP1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish Audi R18 TDI 3m27.697s
6. LMP1 Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud Peugeot 908 3m28.739s
7. LMP1 Lapierre/Duval/Panis ORECA Peugeot 908 Hdi-FAP 3m30.084s
8. LMP1 Collard/Tinseau/Jousse Pescarolo-Judd 3m33.066s
9. LMP1 Jani/Prost/Bleekemolen Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m33.982s
10. LMP1 Belicchi/Boullion/Smith Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m34.892s
11. LMP1 Monteiro/Moreau/Ragues Oak Pescarolo-Judd 3m34.933s
12. LMP1 Ickx/Martin/Leinders Kronos Aston Martin 3m36.551s
13. LMP1 Amaral/Pla/Hughes Quifel-ASM Zytek 3m37.393s
14. LMP2 Mailleux/Ordonez/Ayari Signatech ORECA-Nissan 3m41.458s
15. LMP1 Hein/Nicolet/Yvon Oak Pescarolo-Judd 3m41.908s
16. LMP2 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD ARX-01d 3m42.615s
17. LMP2 Premat/Hallyday/Kraihamer Oreca-Nissan 3m43.098s
18. LMP2 Perez Companc/Russo/Kaffer Pecom Lola-Judd 3m43.223s
19. LMP2 Ojjeh/Kimber-Smith/Lombard Greaves Zytek-Nissan 3m43.814s
20. LMP2 Frey/Meichtry/Rostan Race Performance ORECA-Judd 3m44.294s
21. LMP2 Nakano/De Crem/Charouz Oak Racing Pescarolo-BMW 3m45.297s
22. LMP1 Mucke/Turner/Klien Aston Martin AMR-One 3m46.450s
23. LMP2 Erdos/Newton/Collins RML HPD ARX-01d 3m47.308s
24. LMP1 Zacchia/Lammers/Elgaard Hope ORECA 3m47.691s
25. LMP1 Primat/Fernandez/Meyrick Aston Martin AMR-One 3m48.355s
26. LMP2 Rosier/Haezbrouck/Fournoux Extreme Limite Norma-Judd 3m48.420s
27. LMP2 Barlesi/Da Rocha/Lafargue Oak Pescarolo-Judd 3m48.665s
28. LMP2 Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa Level 5 Lola-Honda 3m51.149s
29. GTE P Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.040s
30. GTE P Farfus/Muller/Werner BMW M3 3m58.426s
31. GTE P Priaulx/Muller/Hand BMW M3 3m59.321s
32. GTE P Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen Farnbacher Ferrari 3m59.519s
33. GTE P Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook Corvette C6 ZR1 3m59.519s
34. GTE P Beretta/Milner/Garcia Corvette C6 ZR1 3m59.633s
35. GTE P Lieb/Lietz/Henzler Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 3m59.662s
36. GTE P Ortelli/Makowiecki/Melo Luxury Racing Ferrari 3m59.901s
37. GTE P Goossens/Holzer/Van Lagen Prospeed Porsche 3m59.962s
38. GTE P Dolan/Hancock/Buncombe Jota Aston Martin 4m00.747s
39. GTE P Bell/Sugden/Maasen JMW Ferrari 4m00.890s
40. GTE P Beltoise/Jakubowski/Thiret Luxury Racing Ferrari 4m01.176s
41. GTE P Bergmeister/Long/Luhr Flying Lizard Porsche 4m01.480s
42. GTE P Al Faisal/Tandy/Miller Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 4m02.049s
43. GTE P Kauffman/Waltrip/Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 4m02.216s
44. GTE A Perazzini/Cioci/Breslin AF Corse Ferrari 4m02.539s
45. GTE A Felbermayr/Felbermayr/Ried Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 4m03.532s
46. GTE A Bourret/Gibon/Belloc Larbre Porsche 4m03.918s
47. GTE A Niemen/Law/Pumpelly Flying Lizard Porsche 4m04.747s
48. GTE A Giroix/Goethe/Wainwright Gulf Aston Martin 4m04.825s
49. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugulo Krohn Ferrari 4m05.856s
50. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel Larbre Porsche 4m05.955s
51. GTE P Pilet/Narac/Armindo IMSA Performance Porsche 4m06.438s
52. GTE A Rodrigues/Menahem/Marroc JMB ORECA 4m06.513s
53. GTE A Ehret/Lynn/Wills CRS Ferrari 4m07.236s
54. GTE P Rich/Slingerland/Hartshorne Jetalliance Lotus Evora 4m07.465s
55. GTE A Robertson/Robertson/Murry Robertson Racing Ford-Doran 4m08.208s
56. GTE P Hirschi/Rossiter/Mowlem Jetalliance Lotus Evora 4m12.569s