The reigning world champions Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) claimed pole position with their number 1 car for Saturday’s six-hour race. Next to them on the grid in Spa-Francorchamps (BE) is the sister-car number 2 of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE). In the WEC the average of the respective best laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. In Spa Bernhard/Hartley (car number 1 / 1:55.793 minutes) and Jani/Lieb (car number 2 / 1:56.590 minutes) were the qualifying drivers.
It is the first pole position in 2016 for the 919 and its 13th pole since the prototypes’ debut in 2014. For the Bernhard/Hartley/Webber trio it is the 7th pole position in total. Due to higher track temperatures the pole time of Bernhard/Hartley was one second slower than their pole time from last year (1:54.767 minutes). In the morning, during the third free practice session, the Porsche prototypes were the fastest cars on track – the number 1 car (1:56.465 min) ahead of the number 2 car (1:58.163 min).
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “It is a good feeling to have both Porsche 919 Hybrids on the front row, obviously ideal to start the race from. We now hope for a clean and straightforward race. We have every chance of finishing on top tomorrow and Spa is a bit of unfinished business for us but we expect a tough and tight race tomorrow in which tyre management will be key.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Of course we are very pleased to be back on the front row. In the practice sessions we could see that our new low downforce aero kit is quite competitive on a single lap. Our drivers turned this into a perfect result. Obviously the big points are at stake tomorrow but this single point for pole position is a nice reward for our entire team in Weissach as well as here on track for the efforts they have put into the Le Mans package.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 1
Timo Bernhard (35, Germany): “In free practice we did a good job for the race but also found some improvements for qualifying. Brendon did a mega lap and so I knew what I had to deliver. We are now in the best position for tomorrow and are happy to have scored our first point.”
Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand): “I managed to put a pretty good lap together and Timo did almost the same lap time. But we didn’t expect such a gap. In the first practice session we were not happy with the balance of the car and the improvement since is a great team effort. We have now scored our first championship point for pole and want full points tomorrow. That’s the goal. After my accident in Silverstone our championship title defence starts here in Spa.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 2
Romain Dumas (38, France): “Because we had issues with the FIA telemetry on Thursday, we missed some time in free practice and therefore haven’t finished our set-up work. Even so we have managed to improve the car for qualifying. La Source, the first corner, is very tight and therefore it is good to start from the front row. In the race tyre wear will be crucial. It will be exciting to see who manages it best to keep the tyres in the operating window.”
Neel Jani (32, Switzerland): “We had some difficulties in practice and are not as well prepared as the sister car. They are really fast, congratulations. We knew that for us a realistic target for today was P2 and that’s what we’ve got. Before qualifying we also fitted new brakes which was a significant improvement.”
Marc Lieb (35, Germany): “This is a super qualifying result for Porsche. Personally I’m not at all happy with my lap. I didn’t get the right feeling for the car, was braking too early and didn’t find a good rhythm.”
The six-hour race starts on Saturday at 14:30 hrs local time. Eurosport will broadcast live from 19:00 to 20:45 hrs. Live feed, timing and more is available at the FIA WEC App. Live features such as on-board cameras, timing and GPS tracking are also available in the Porsche Motorsport App (free of charge). All live features are also available at porsche.com/fiawec.