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Audi holds on to Le Mans pole

Audi takes pole for the 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hours as Loic Duval's early lap from Wednesday remains unbeaten
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.

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