Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley took a fourth FIA World Endurance Championship pole position in the No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid at Shanghai.
Porsche scored another 1-2 in qualifying to maintain its perfect pole record in the 2015 World Endurance Championship and ensure that Webber, Hartley and teammate Timo Bernhard stretch their title advantage to two points.
The title leading No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley set an average of 1:42.719s this afternoon. Hartley, who has been the quickest driver in the No.17 for most of the meeting, set an outright best of 1:42.621s to lay the foundations of a convincing pole. Before war is declared in the Rugby World Cup today, the Australian and New Zealander worked in perfect harmony throughout the qualifying session.
“For Mark and me it was a perfect qualifying with everything going according to plan,” Hartley said.
“I made a mistake in turn one on my lap but nevertheless both of us had very good lap times straight away and that is crucial here because with the abrasive tarmac you don’t get a second chance with your tyres. The team did a fantastic job to give us a car more than four seconds quicker than last year’s.”
Such was the advantage that the No.17 Porsche enjoyed; Webber was able to pit the car with five minutes to go. The No.17 Porsche had 0.769s over the sister No.18 car which made an unexpected pit stop after the first lap out of the pit. Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas were on qualifying duties this afternoon. The No.18 Porsche fought back from an engine change which was completed just before the qualifying session.
“It is great for Porsche and our team to have both cars on the front row again,” Webber said.
“Brendon and I had a great time in qualifying. It was a good battle between us and in the end it was safe with a very strong average of our two timed laps. However, qualifying is a bit of show business in endurance racing; the main race is tomorrow and there is some wet weather around.”
Audi was unable to trouble the Porches at Shanghai today in qualifying and line-up third and fourth on the grid. Marcel Fassler hit traffic on his quick lap and was left frustrated to not get nearer the Porches today.
The No.7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, in the hands of Fassler and Benoit Treluyer will start behind the sister Audi Sport Team Joest car which was qualified by of Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi today.
Toyota finished in fifth and sixth places once again, with Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson qualifying the No.1 TS 040 Hybrid ahead of the Alex Wurz and Mike Conway crewed car, which was just under 0.2s behind.
The LMP1 Privateer category was headed by the No.12 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER driven by Dominik Kraihamer and Alexander Imperatori. The pair, who are joined by FIA WEC newcomer Matheo Tuscher this weekend, had a trouble-free run to secure the pole from the No.12 Rebellion of Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche.
LMP2 pole was claimed for a third successive race by Sam Bird and Julien Canal in the No.26 G-Drive Ligier-Nissan. Canal fought back superbly from an accident in the final Free Practice session this morning, while Bird set easily the fastest individual class lap on a 1:51.984s. The average for the LMP2 pole sitter was 1:52.763s.
The AF Corse Ferrari 458s took a 1-2 in LMGTE Pro qualifying for the 6 Hours of Shanghai with reigning World Champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander taking their second pole position of 2015 in the No.51 Ferrari, 0.265s ahead of teammates James Calado and Davide Rigon in the No.71 458.
The No.99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Alex MacDowall and Fernando Rees will start from row two after just being bumped from the front row by just 0.032s at the end of the 20-minute session.
The two Porsche Team Manthey 911s will start in fourth and fifth places on the grid with the No.92 Porsche of Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet finishing ahead of the No.91 sister car of championship leader Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen. The No.97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Johnny Adams and Darren Turner finished sixth 1.15 seconds adrift of the pole position holders at the front of the grid.