Loic Duval posted the quickest time in the second qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hours to put the #3 Audi R18 Ultra into top spot ahead of the final two hours of running on Thursday evening.
Duval produced a storming lap of 3min 24.078secs with around half an hour of the second two-hour session to go to move ahead of overnight pole-sitter Andre Lotterer, who had improved on the benchmark time he had posted in the #1 R18 e-tron Quattro on Wednesday.
Heading into the final session, the top two will split by nine-tenths of a second on the timing sheets, with Allan McNish having been third quickest in the second of the new hybrid Audis – albeit a second further back on the times.
Toyota once again ensured there was no Audi lock-out of the top four spots, although it was the #8 car that emerged as quickest of the two TS030 HYBRIDs, with Anthony Davidson setting the best time of 3min 26.151secs – just over two seconds off the pace. Having already run wide through the final corner, Davidson would end the session returning slowly to the pits with Toyota setting about working to resolve a potential issue before the final session gets underway.
The second Audi R18 Ultra improved on its time but remained fifth, with the second Toyota down in sixth having slipped back two spots from its overnight position. Kazuki Nakajima lapped strongly early in the session and had moved up into the top three before others improved, although there would also be trouble for the #7 car after Nicolas Lapierre spun entering the Ford Chicane and then crawled back into the pitlane.
Quickest of the non-factory teams was once again the Strakka Racing HPD, with Danny Watts breaking the 3mins 30secs marker to sit seventh, just ahead of the first of the Rebellion Racing Lolas which also got into the 3min 29secs in the hands of Neel Jani.
Amongst the LMP1 teams, only JRM Racing failed to set a time as it completed just a single installation lap having elected to spend the time fitting race parts to its HPD.
Despite an off into the tyres at Indianapolis, Olivier Pla put OAK Racing into provisional pole amongst the LMP2 field with a lap of 3min 38.698secs which gave him a huge – by LMP2 standards – gap of more than half a second over his closest challenger.
Although repaired after its accident yesterday, the #29 Gulf Racing Middle East Lola Coupe failed to appear, as did the Level 5 HPD which was being prepared for the race. The #31 Lotus entry stopped on track with Luca Moro at the wheel early on.
In the GT classes, the #59 Luxury Racing Ferrari holds provisional pole in GTE-Pro thanks to Frederic Makowiecki's quick time while the team's #58 car was quickest in GTE-Am, although it failed to beat the class pole time set by the Flying Lizards Porsche on Wednesday.