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Porsche will lead off the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours from the front of the field after firming up its 1-2-3 positions in final qualifying at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Having dominated proceedings in Q1, Porsche came into Q2 and Q3 as the manufacturer to overhaul, but on a day where few teams manage to better their times across the 56-strong field, the marque was never realistically challenged out front.
Indeed, the leading positions were effectively determined in the first few minutes of Q1 on Wednesday, with Neel Jani's startling 3m 16.887secs effort in the car he shares with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb proving eight tenths better than the #17 car in the hands of Timo Bernhard, who will drive alongside Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg.
With the #19 'wild-card' car being driven by Earl Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy moving into third early on in Q1, it was a trio that wouldn't be moved – or even closely challenged - for the remainder of the six hours of track time available across Q2 and Q3.
The result marks the first time Porsche has started on overall pole position for the iconic endurance race since 1997 when it ran under the Joest Racing banner with a TWR-prepared WSC-95, but whilst its searing single lap pace was always predicted to come to the fore in qualifying for this race, it is expected to be challenged more seriously by Audi over a longer distance.
Indeed, despite failing to make in-roads on Porsche's dominance in qualifying, Audi remains poised just behind in fourth, fifth and sixth, the #8 R18 e-tron of Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval heading up the challenge, ahead of the #7 car of 2014 winners Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer and the #9 car of Filip Albuquerque, Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi, the latter cars just two of only a handful to post minor time improvements during the two Thursday sessions.
Opting to focus on race pace having accepted it won't challenge Porsche or Audi regardless, Toyota settled for a distant seventh and eighth, the #2 car leading the WEC winning #1 entry with times some two seconds slower than its own pole from a year earlier.
Nissan, meanwhile, continued to chip away at the pace with its unique LMP1 entry, with Harry Tincknell elevating the #22 GT-R LM NISMO to the top of the trio late on, albeit still 20secs behind the overall leaders in what is destined to be an educational returning to Le Mans for the manufacturer.
In the LMP2 class, KCMG clung onto its provisional pole position by a sizeable margin, its new Oreca 05 proving nine tenths faster in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre, Richard Bradley and Matthew Howson.
The #27 G-Drive Ligier of Sam Bird, Roman Rusniov and Julian Canal made big gains late on to grab second in the ultra-competitive intermediate class, ahead of the Greaves Gibson, defending champions JOTA Sport and Signatech Alpine.
In the GT class, Aston Martin also maintained its provisional top spot in both the PRO and AM classes, with the #99 Vantage of Richie Stanaway, Fernando Rees and Alex MacDowell leading the former, while not even issues for the #98 car could stop Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana from retaining its big advantage in the latter category.
The #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gimmi Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella did get close to unseating Aston Martin but would ultimately settle for second place, with the #97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Robert Bell in third.
The two Thursday qualifying sessions saw a handful of incidents, the most serious of which was a big crash at the Porsche Curves for Jan Magnussen in the Corvette. The Dane impacted the barriers hard at speed, but a message from his son Kevin declared him 'OK', with the Corvette team now busily trying to repair the car for the race. There was also a red flag period after the #67 AAI Porsche caught fire in the final hour.
Meanwhile, several teams would find themselves receive the wrath of the stewards for persistent 'abuse of the track limits' on the entry to the Mulsanne Straight, with many getting their lap times deleted for the infraction.