With a single mission of winning this year's Petit Le Mans overall, Rebellion Racing took the first step toward accomplishing that with pole position achieved on Friday. Neel Jani (LEFT) took the No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota to pole by 0.339 of a second after a back-and-forth battle with Lucas Luhr in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a.
Rebellion finished fifth overall at Petit Le Mans a year ago, and is running this race with its spare car as it falls in between two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Jani co-drives with Nicolas Prost and Andrea Belicchi.
“It's not a very forgiving circuit,” said Jani. “But we're here for only one target, to win Petit Le Mans. There's a chance we can do it. We don't want to interfere with the other P1 championship battle, though.”
The Dyson Lola Mazdas were further back, and the No. 16 car of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson can claim its second title in a row if Muscle Milk fails to hit the 70 percent threshold. Their third drivers this weekend are Steven Kane (Dyson) and Romain Dumas (Muscle Milk, alongside Luhr and Klaus Graf).
Guy Cosmo originally led a 1-2 sweep in GT for Extreme Speed Motorsports, marking the team's second consecutive pole and second in team history for the squad that fields Ferrari F458 Italias. ESM is decked out in a special chrome livery this weekend with Ultimat Vodka signage.
“We already have a special livery this weekend, so if people didn't see it already, we wanted to make sure they saw us,” deadpanned the newly married Cosmo. “Most of this year we've been working on longer runs before qualifying but we could go for it this time.”
While he was in good spirits afterwards, the joy was short lived. The No. 02 car - driven by Cosmo, Ed Brown and Anthony Lazzaro - had its qualifying times deleted for failure to pass post qualifying tech per article 10.1.1.b – ride height.
Cosmo had edged Toni Vilander, ESM's third driver in the sister No. 01, ahead of the No. 55 BMW, two Corvettes and a surprising sixth for the No. 93 SRT Viper, qualified by Marc Goossens. No Porsche qualified higher than seventh. Vilander's car, with Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp as co-drivers, now starts on the GT class pole.
Other class polesitters are Olivier Pla (P2), Kyle Marcelli (PC), Leh Keen (GTC) and Nicolas Armindo (GTE AM in ELMS, running with extra entries this weekend).
The PC class pole was the most adventurous of that group. Marcelli stopped on track, but off line and almost on the grass, when his engine breaker cut out on the Merchant Services No. 8 ORECA. He resumed nearly at the same moment a red flag came out, which halted fast laps Colin Braun and Ryan Lewis were on, although he hinted it cost him, too.
“It was an interesting situation,” he said. “I went faster and faster each lap. I headed into the esses and the car just shut off. I coasted through there and got off line into a safe position. Our engine breaker had popped and when I reset it, the red flag came out. I did everything I could; I'm sorry for others who were on a fast lap.”
Pla's pole for OAK Racing came ahead of the other Morgan Nissan, the usual ALMS P2 car from Conquest Endurance and qualified by Martin Plowman. Marino Franchitti, driving with brother Dario and Scott Tucker in the Level 5 HPD, was third. Murphy Prototypes clocked in fourth in class, best of the two ORECA 03 Nissans.
Gunnar Jeannette qualified the Nissan DeltaWing in 11th overall at 1:12.890, behind six of the eight P2 cars and all four P1 entries. It marked a respectable effort, especially considering the rebuild job after its practice accident Wednesday.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. P1 Belicchi/Jani/Prost Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m09.089s
2. P1 Luhr/Graf/Dumas Pickett HPD 1m09.428s
3. P1 Dyson/Smith/Kane Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m10.176s
4. P1 Burgess/Patterson/McMurry Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m11.811s
5. P2 Nicolet/Baguette/Pla OAK Morgan-Nissan 1m12.046s
6. P2 Plowman/Heinemeier Hansson/Lux Conquest Morgan-Nissan 1m12.048s
7. P2 Tucker/Franchitti/Franchitti Level 5 HPD 1m12.236s
8. P2 Hartley/Hughes/Firth Murphy ORECA-Nissan 1m12.382s
9. P2 Brundle/Buncombe/Kimber-Smith Greaves Zytek-Nissan 1m12.524s
10. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz Level 5 HPD 1m12.890s
11. UNC Ordonez/Jeannette Highcroft DeltaWing-Nissan 1m12.850s
12. P2 Beche/Thiriet/Tinseau TDS ORECA-Nissan 1m12.944s
13. P2 Dempsey/Foster/Cameron Dempsey Lola-Judd 1m13.214s
14. PC Marcelli/Downs/Ducote Merchant FLM 1m14.099s
15. PC Bennett/Braun/Gonzalez CORE FLM 1m14.145s
16. PC Richard/Ende/Lewis Dempsey FLM 1m14.268s
17. PC Popow/Dalziel/Wilkins CORE FLM 1m14.433s
18. PC Junqueira/Drissi/Vera RSR FLM 1m14.561s
19. PC Junco/Dobson/Julian PR1 Mathiasen FLM 1m14.940s
20. GT Brown/Cosmo/Lazzaro Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m18.677s
21. GT Sharp/van Overbeek/Vilander Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m18.729s
22. GT Müller/Auberlen/Summerton RLL BMW 1m18.972s
23. GT Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette 1m19.065s
24. GT Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette 1m19.086s
25. GT Goossens/Kendall/Bomarito SRT Viper 1m19.145s
26. GT Bergmeister/Long/Pilet Flying Lizard Porsche 1m19.225s
27. GT Müller/Alzen/Summerton RLL BMW 1m19.261s
28. GT Neiman/Holzer/Tandy Flying Lizard Porsche 1m19.524s
29. GT Wittmer/Farnbacher/Hunter-Reay SRT Viper 1m19.839s
30. GT Miller/Maassen/Lietz Miller Porsche 1m20.388s
31. GTE-Am Pons/Narac/Armindo Imsa Porsche 1m20.733s
32. GT Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger Falken Porsche 1m20.760s
33. GT Sweedler/Bell/Mowlem Alex Job Lotus 1m21.510s
34. GTE-AM Perazzini/Cioci/Griffin AF Ferrari 1m22.630s
35. GTC MacNeil/Keen/von Moltke Alex Job Porsche 1m24.060s
36. GTC LeSaffre/Faulkner/Wong Green Hornet Porsche 1m24.251s
37. GTC Di Guida/Pumpelly/Canache TRG Porsche 1m24.566s
38. GTC Cisneros/Farnbacher/Giermaziak NGT Porsche 1m24.833s
39. GTC Cumming/Valiante/Johnston JDX Porsche 1m25.058s
40. GTC Benitez/Bullitt/Segal NGT Porsche 1m25.385s
41. GTC Davis/Avenatti/Calvert-Jones Competition Porsche 1m25.456s
42. GTC Collard/Gutierrez/Hedlund TRG Porsche 1m25.641s