The #2 Audi will start the 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position after retaining its place at the head of the pack through the third and final qualifying session at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The car had headed the time sheets from the opening moments of the first two-hour session on Wednesday evening, with Loic Duval vaulting to provisional pole with a best time of 3min 22.349secs.

A red flag in the second half of Wednesday's session and then poor weather conditions in the opening session on Thursday meant there had been no changes in position going into Q3, where it was expected that a battle for pole would finally come alive.

Two red flag stoppages in the final two and a half hours meant it was only in the final 20 minutes that that battle hotted up, although there was to be no denying Duval top spot in the car he shares with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.

Both Benoit Treluyer and Lucas di Grassi set strong times in the first sector to suggest that they could make a bid for stop spot but neither was able to string together a full lap on a busy circuit.

Despite that, Audi secured a 1-2-3 on the times although di Grassi risked the wrath of the stewards when he briefly ran the wrong way down the circuit following a spin going into the Dunlop Esses moments after posting his best time.

While Stephane Sarrazin did his best in the closing stages, Toyota was unable to take the challenge to Audi, with the leading TS030 HYBRID more than four seconds off the pace in fourth place. The Frenchman was however able to get ahead of the sister car, which qualified in fifth with the time set on Wednesday by Alex Wurz.

The two Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyotas will start sixth and seventh, with Strakka Racing's HPD in eighth, despite an accident in the final hour at the second Mulsanne Chicane that resulted in the red flag being shown.

John Martin's quickest time on Wednesday had looked set to give the G-Drive Oreca-Nissan pole amongst the LMP2 runners, but Olivier Pla had other ideas as he snatched top spot for OAK Racing in the closing seconds of qualifying.

Pla's best time would be almost a second quicker than Martin's previous benchmark time, while three different chassis will start in the top three positions in class after the Jota Sport took third in the hands of Oliver Turvey. The Morand Racing Morgan, Delta-ADR Oreca and KCMG Morgan rounded out the top six in class.

Elsewhere in LMP2, the Thiriet by TDS Oreca would fail to appear after its accident on Wednesday, with the team rebuilding its car around a rented chassis after the damage sustained in the shunt wasn't repairable.

GTE-Pro pole went to Aston Martin thanks to Fred Makowiecki, but only after the #99 Vantage had briefly been knocked off top spot by the sister #97 machine in the hands of Stefan Mucke.

Nearly a second would cover the duo when the chequered flag flew, with the first of the Manthey-run factory Porsches in third from Gianmaria Bruni's AF Corse Ferrari. As expected, the SRT Vipers were towards the bottom of the GTE-Pro times in 46th and 50th overall, but there was more surprise at the relative lack of pace of the two factory Corvettes - the quickest of which starts eighth in class and 39th overall; a massive four seconds down on the pole-sitting Aston Martin.

The JMW Motorsport Ferrari was able to turn its first qualifying laps on Thursday but starts last in the GTE-Pro field with what is effectively a GTE-Am line-up behind the wheel.

Aston Martin also took pole in the GTE-Am class, with Allan Simonsen's fastest time in the #95 car being good enough to out-qualify the two GTE-Pro Corvettes, with the Proton Competition Porsche in second and the second of the Aston Martins in third - despite Stuart Hall putting the car off into the gravel.

The #76 IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche would endure a tough session however, with Christophe Bourret ripping off a wheel when he went into the barriers at the first of the Mulsanne chicane.

Fine work from the Krohn Racing team saw its new car make it out onto the circuit for the latter stages of the session with Maurizio Mediani turning his first lap in darkness, but there was little surprise to see it qualifying in 56th spot on the 56 car grid for Saturday's race.

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