Defending champions Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler will start the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position after Lotterer secured a historic pole for the #1 Audi crew at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Having topped the times provisionally during Wednesday's opening two-hour session, the trio were briefly knocked off top spot following the first of two sessions on Thursday by fellow Audi man Loic Duval before Lotterer took his chance to shine in the third and final session.

With darkness falling, Lotterer set a time of 3min 23.787secs, which was enough to clinch the first pole position at Le Mans for a hybrid car. While the R18 e-tron Quattro proved to be the car to beat, Duval impressed to take second place in the R18 Ultra he will share with Romain Dumas and Marc Gene.

While the top two were covered by just three-tenths of a second, the first of the new Toyotas was a second off the pace in third place after Anthony Davidson set the best time for the #8 car in the final session.

The Briton made a move to try and grab the glory with a run for pole late on but was unable to match the pace of the leading Audis ahead of the first race for the TS030. Experienced trio Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello start fourth in the second of the Audi hybrids with Kazuki Nakajima able to put the second of the Toyotas into fifth.

Marco Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller will therefore start from sixth place in the final factory Audi after the two manufacturer outfits unsurprisingly locked out the top six places on the grid.

'Best of the rest' proved to the Strakka Racing team, with Danny Watts setting a time in the second session which was enough to see off the challenge of the two Rebellion Racing cars for privateer honours.

The Pescarolo-run Dome rounded out the top ten, despite brining out the red flags when Seiji Ara crashed at the Porsche Curves during the final session.

ADR-Delta start from LMP2 pole in 14th overall after John Martin set a time that was good enough to beat the class benchmark posted by Olivier Pla for OAK Racing in the second session. OAK had to settle for second as a result.

GTE-Pro went to the Luxury Racing after a stellar lap from Fred Makowiecki in the second session ahead of Darren Turner's Aston Martin Vantage, while top spot in GTE-Am went to Flying Lizards Motorsport in an impressive sixth overall amongst the GTE cars.