Audi will start the Silverstone 6 Hours – round one of the 2014 World Endurance Championship – from second position on the grid, despite setting the fastest lap of qualifying.
The title defending No.1 car of Tom Kristensen, Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi would have been good enough to claim pole position under the previous qualifying format following Kristensen's session-leading 1min 42.477 lap time.
However, in an attempt to greater reflect the team effort of the WEC, a new format that takes into account the two fastest times from two nominated drivers, which are then turned into one average lap time, meant the greater consistency of the No.7 Toyota would instead see it granted pole position.
Indeed, though Audi Sport Team Joest manager Ralf Juttner believes the car had something in reserve to snatch back pole from Toyota, he says the decision was taken to instead save the tyres.
“This was a thrilling qualifying session,” he said. “All three manufacturers are represented on the top three grid positions. We already thought we'd clinched position one but then Kazuki Nakajima made up another tenth of a second. Afterwards, Loïc would have liked to go out once more.
“It would have been possible to recapture the pole position but we decided to save tires for the race. If he hadn't been back in the pits yet but still out on track we probably would have given it another try. My congratulations to Toyota on their first pole position.”
Pace setter Kristensen was also pleased with his efforts, not least the lap times given the new restrictions on energy consumption per lap.
“An incredibly exciting qualifying session with new cars, new participants and new rules. The way the grid looks we can expect a very thrilling race. The lap times are very good despite the lower energy consumption.
“The LMP1 models such as our Audi are the most fascinating race cars of the world for me at the moment. 'Thank you' to Audi Sport and Audi Sport Team Joest for having done such a good job of developing and preparing our cars.”