After heading all three practice sessions Audi duly claimed the front row for the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas, Round 6 of the FIA World Endurance Championship. However the roles were reversed within the team.
After the no8 Audi had headed the time sheets in each of the Free Practice sessions it was the no7 car of Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer who claimed Audi’s third pole position in a row with an average lap of 1m45.842, just 0.141 ahead of their teammates Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis in the no8 car.
The no1 Porsche 919 will start on row two after Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley posted a 1m46.560 two lap average. It looked as if they would be joined by the no2 Porsche on row two but Romain Dumas final lap was deleted for abuse of track limited and the no6 Toyota TS050 will start alongside the no1 Porsche after Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi briefly challenged for a front row start during the 20 minute session.
The no13 Rebellion Racing R-One was the faster of the two LMP1 Privateer entries but with the no4 Bykolles CLM-AER a lot closer to the pace of the Rebellion.
In LMP2 championship leaders Nico Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes claimed the team’s first pole of the season by nearly one second. The French-American pairing posted a 1m55.892 two lap average, 0.981 seconds faster than the no44 Manor Oreca of Roberto Merhi and Matthew Rao. The no43 RGR Sport Oreca of Mexico race winners Bruno Senna and Ricardo Gonzalez were third fastest, 1.475 seconds behind the pole position holders and 0.169s ahead of the no42 Strakka Racing Gibson of Jonny Kane and Lewis Williamson.
The no26 G Drive Racing Ligier of Alex Brundle and Roman Rusinov will have to start at the back of the grid after Brundle had three lap times deleted due to the abuse of track limits, with the British driver failing to record a time during the 20-minute session.
Aston Martin’s Double Pole in Texas
It was all smiles in the Aston Martin garage as the team claimed pole position in both LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am with the no95 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen claiming their third pole in a row and the no98 Vantage of Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana also taking their third pole start of 2016.
The two lap average of the no95 was a 2m04.610, just 0.042 ahead of the no71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. In fact the top six cars were covered by less than half a second. Row two will be headed by the no66 Ford GT of Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke, with the no51 AF Corse of Gimmi Bruni and James Calado alongside them in 4th and just 0.211 behind the lead car.
In LMGTE Am the gap between 1st and 2nd was 0.6 seconds with the 6 Hours of Mexico winners, the no88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche, taking the second place position behind the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage. Kevin Estre and Khalid Al Qubaisi set an average lap time of 2m07.282, which was 0.5 seconds ahead of the no78 KCMG Porsche and the no86 Gulf Racing 911.
The 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas will take place on Saturday 17 September with the green flag being shown at 17h00 and finishing after sunset at 23h00.
Marcel Fassler – no7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18
“We showed out pace in the free practice and the car is fantastic to drive, particularly in the fast part, it is really enjoyable. In quali mode with low fuel is was like a roller coaster. It was really good fun. We managed to do a 1-2 and I think it is a really good achievement for Audi especially for our crew because they had to work quite late last night. A big thanks for those guys for giving us such a fast car.”
Andre Lotterer – no7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18
“It was a really nice car to drive, particularly through the first sector. It was very planted and the guys from the aero department did a really good job and its efficient as well. Hopefully it will be the same for the race because it is time to win again.”
Alexandre Imperatori – no13 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER
“We struggled a little with the car in qualifying compared to this morning. The track was a bit hotter. We made a few adjustments which proved positive for the race but for qualifying it was not 100 per cent ideal. We had two proper laps and we were very close to each other. We were comfortably ahead of the Kolles. We need to finish the race. We’re not really thinking about the championship, we’re just trying to do clean races and give the boys in the garage something to cheer about.”
Dominik Kraihamer– no13 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER
“There is a bit of a challenge missing but Kolles is getting closer and closer which is very good. We’re just trying to do clean laps, do clean races and therefore the qualifying was not bad. We did quite a lot of changes from free practice to qualifying which turned out to be better for the race, than quali. We’re still working on the set-up and we only used one set of tyres in qualifying which is very positive as well. I’m happy to see Kolles only 9/10ths off which is still a decent gap but they are getting closer so I’m really happy for them.”
Gustavo Menezes – no36 Signatech Alpine Alpine A460-Nissan
“The team has done a great job, we’ve had great results and we knew we had to work on our one lap pace. We’ve struggled to get poles so far this year. It does feel nice to be at my home race, get a pole and the team to make that step. Nico helped me out to make sure we solidified that pole.”
Nicolas Lapierre – no36 Signatech Alpine Alpine A460-Nissan
“The car looks really strong since the beginning of the weekend. Since the beginning of the year we have always been fast in the races but we’ve always struggled a bit in qualifying. It looks like here we’ve found something. Gustavo did a clear lap and I just had to finish the job. We look forward to tomorrow. It is different conditions to what we are used to but we did prepare well. It is looking good but we know the most difficult job is still to be done tomorrow.”
Marco Sorensen – no95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage
“We are really happy that it’s the third time we’re up here. It is going to be a little more difficult here than in Mexico. I think the whole GTE field was within one or two tenths and that is really good for the sport. We’re happy to be on pole.”
Nicki Thiim – no95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage
“We’ll see tomorrow. We definitely had good pace. It is really close but the guys are doing a good job and we’ll keep pushing. Every time we come to a new weekend we are bringing up something new and that’s why we can keep being up there.”
Pedro Lamy – no98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8
“The car was good and it had good balance. The track was a bit slower than this morning for us and we didn’t manage to match the same lap time. It was a bit more difficult but it was the same for everybody. I managed to do a good lap and Paul did a fantastic lap time and that is why we are on pole.”
Paul Dalla Lana – no98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8
“We had a little issue with traction control when I lost TC on my run and it made it a little interesting out there. We didn’t quite have the experience of the Audi guys with the car on rails. We were sliding around pretty good out there. The team has done a great job. We wanted to come back from Mexico with not just the promise of results but some real results so I’m happy to get this one.”