Benoit Treluyer edged out Allan McNish by the narrowest of margins as Audi captured a 1-2 in qualifying for the Silverstone 6 Hours..
Both drivers had pitted for fresh rubber in the final five minutes, and found instant improvements as a result. It was McNish who made the first move in the No. 2 R18 ultra, the Briton dropping down to a 1m43.887s with three minutes of the session to run.
Treluyer in the R18 e-tron was yet to come round however, and when he did it was the No. 1 car that headed the times with a 1m43.663s. McNish tried to respond as the flag flew, but while he did improve he fell desperately short, missing out on pole position by just one hundredth of a second.
Toyota had been involved in the pole fight until Audi's late rally, but under the guidance of Nicolas Lapierre the sole TS030 Hybrid nevertheless qualified third, seven tenths down on the benchmark time. Both Lapierre and Treluyer also had wild moments – the former narrowly avoiding contact with Pierre Ragues as he dived into the pits, and the latter running wide and off-track early on.
Danny Watts was the top privateer LMP1 driver, finishing fourth in the No. 21 Strakka HPD. LMP2 was similarly frantic, with the lead changing hands several times in the final minutes. Nicolas Minassian held top spot in the No. 38 Jota Nissan-Zytek with 60 seconds to run, but eventually wound up third.
Stephane Sarrazin in the Starworks HPD was the first to demote him, but found himself similarly pushed down the order when Alex Brundle – who had spun earlier in the session – came around in a 1m49.964s to earn class pole for the No. 42 Greaves Nissan squad.
GT qualifying, run before the LMP1 session, built to a dramatic crescendo as track conditions steadily improved. With just three minutes to run slick tires finally became the preferable option, as evidence when James Walker flew to a 2m12.326s – around two second faster than anyone else – in the No. 66 JMW Ferrari he shares with Jonny Cocker. Walker then spun on his final lap while trying to better his own benchmark, and was therefore unable to respond when, as the checkered flag flew, Richard Lietz put the No. 77 Felbermayr Porsche top.
Gianmaria Bruni claimed third in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari, some way ahead of the Aston Martin Vantage and sister No. 71 458. There was such a gap, in fact, that the No. 97 Vantage was not Aston Martin's top representative. That honor instead falling to the No. 98 GTE Am car driven by Stuart Hall and Roald Goethe.
Hall, taking over for qualifying, did enough to edge out Felbermayr's No. 88 Am Porsche of Christian Ried/Gianluca Roda/Paolo Ruberti.