Loic Duval put the #3 Audi R18 Ultra on provisional pole for the 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours with a spectacular lap of 3m24.078s.
Times had already fallen prior to Duval's effort, with his team-mate Romain Dumas getting to within five tenths of a second of Andre Lotterer's overnight benchmark in the #1 e-tron quattro - before the man himself dropped down to a 3m24.997s, at the time putting him 0.861 seconds clear.
That was shattered with 30 minutes of the session remaining however, as Duval pulled more than nine tenths of a second clear of the field - a margin that could gain even more significance if the expected rain arrives during Thursday evening's third qualifying practice.
Allan McNish's effort of 3m26.038s, set at the end of a six-lap stint, was enough to secure third for the #2 R18 e-tron he shares with Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.
Anthony Davidson prevented an Audi top-four lock-out by securing fourth in the #8 Toyota TS 030 Hybrid. The Briton had just about matched Duval in the first two sectors of his fastest lap - making up most of the time he surrendered in the first split over the second - but lost a significant chunk in the final sector and ended just over two seconds down on the Frenchman.
The #4 Audi R18 Ultra of Oliver Jarvis, Marco Bonanomi and Mike Rockenfeller found just over one second from Wednesday's opening qualifying session but remained fifth fastest, just ahead of the second Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre, Alexander Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima.
Nakajima had put the #7 TS030 as high as third before those around him improved, while Lapierre lost the rear of the car and ran through the grass at the entrance of the Ford chicane.
Danny Watts kept the #21 Strakka HPD as the top independent in seventh, just ahead of Neil Jani's #12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota.
As was the case on Wednesday LMP2 remained incredibly close, with less than one second covering the top six for the majority of the two hours.
Toward the close however OAK's Olivier Pla - already fastest at the time - improved to a 3m38.698s, pulling more than half a second clear of the #26 Signatech and #46 TDS ORECA-Nissans.
There were further complications for the DeltaWing Nissan, which dropped to 28th overall after a session truncated by technical issues.
Across in GTE Pro Frederic Makowiecki put the #59 Luxury Racing Ferrari top, moving just over four tenths of a second clear of the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Darren Turner, Setfan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez.
The #74 Corvette of Richard Westbrook, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner did not improve on Wednesday's showing but remained third, less than six tenths of a second down on Makowiecki.
Flying Lizard's #79 GTE Am pacesetting Porsche likewise did not improve from Wednesday but still finished as the sixth fastest GTE car, and over four tenths clear of its nearest competition, Prospeed's #75 911.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. P1 Dumas/Duval/Gene Audi Ultra 3m25.453s
2. P1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi e-tron 3m26.536s
3. P1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish Audi e-tron 3m26.694s
4. P1 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota 3m27.191s
5. P1 Bonanomi/Jarvis/Rockenfeller Audi Ultra 3m27.554s
6. P1 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota 3m28.295s
7. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD 3m32.750s
8. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m33.140s
9. P1 Belicchi/Primat/Bleekemolen Rebellion Lola-Toyota 3m33.211s
10. P1 Ara/Minassian/Bourdais Pescarolo Dome-Judd 3m34.716s
11. P1 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck JRM HPD 3m37.088s
12. P1 Montagny/Baguette/Kraihamer OAK Pescarolo-Judd 3m37.367s
13. P1 Collard/Boullion/Hall Pescarolo-Judd 3m37.485s
14. P2 Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla OAK Morgan-Judd 3m38.598s
15. P2 Panciatici/Ragues/Rusinov Signatech ORECA-Nissan 3m39.152s
16. P2 Beche/Thiriet/Tinseau TDS ORECA-Nissan 3m39.252s
17. P2 Perez-Companc/Ayari/Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan 3m39.711s
18. P2 Firth/Hughes/Hartley Murphy ORECA-Nissan 3m39.877s
19. P2 Heinemeier Hansson/Leinders/Martin OAK Morgan-Nissan 3m39.899s
20. P2 Martin/Charouz/Graves ADR ORECA-Nissan 3m40.174s
21. P2 Potolicchio/Dalziel/Kimber-Smith Starworks HPD-Honda 3m40.639s
22. P2 Briere/Petersen/Nakano Boutsen ORECA-Nissan 3m40.727s
23. P2 Ordonez/Brundle/Brundle Greaves Zytek-Nissan 3m40.738s
24. P2 Dolan/Hancock/Kurosawa Jota Zytek-Nissan 3m40.989s
25. P2 Sims/Buurman/Iannetta Status Lola-Judd 3m41.287s
26. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz Level 5 HPD-Honda 3m42.224s
27. P2 Mailleux/Lombard/Tresson Signatech ORECA-Nissan 3m42.292s
28. CDNT Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama Highcroft Delta Wing Nissan 3m42.581s
29. P2 Zugel/Gonzalez/Julian Greaves Zytek-Nissan 3m42.612s
30. P2 Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry Race Performance ORECA-Judd 3m43.619s
31. P2 Giroix/Johansson/Badey Gulf Lola-Nissan 3m47.244s
32. P2 Holzer/Schultis/Moro Kodewa Lola-Lotus 3m48.025s
33. P2 Haezebrouck/Thirion/Rosier Extreme Limite Norma-Judd 3m48.067s
34. GTE P Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher Luxury Ferrari 3m55.393s
35. GTE P Fernandez/Mucke/Turner Aston Martin 3m55.870s
36. GTE P Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette 3m55.910s
37. GTE P Taylor/Garcia/Magnussen Corvette 3m57.181s
38. GTE P Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 3m57.509s
39. GTE A Neiman/Pilet/Pumpelly Flying Lizard Porsche 3m57.594s
40. GTE P Lieb/Lietz/Henzler Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 3m57.606s
41. GTE P Alfaisal/Curtis/Edwards IMSA Porsche 3m58.035s
42. GTE P Bergmeister/Long/Holzer Flying Lizard Porsche 3m58.717s
43. GTE A Simonsen/Nygaard/Poulsen Aston Martin 3m58.725s
44. GTE A Ehret/Montecalvo/Jeannette Luxury Ferrari 3m58.800s
45. GTE A Ried/Roda/Ruberti Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 3m59.181s
46. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy Larbre Corvette 3m59.192s
47. GTE P Walker/Cocker/Wills JMW Ferrari 3m59.638s
48. GTE A Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin AF Corse Ferrari 4m00.288s
49. GTE A Armindo/Narac/Pons IMSA Porsche 4m00.332s
50. GTE A Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers AF-Waltrip Ferrari 4m00.691s
51. GTE A Rodrigues/Ferte/Illiano JMB Ferrari 4m02.461s
52. GTE A Bourret/Gibon/Belloc Larbre Corvette 4m02.969s
53. GTE A Camathias/Daniels/Palttala JWA Porsche 4m03.358s
54. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari 4m03.661s
55. P2 Deletraz/Ihara/Rostan Gulf Lola-Nissan 4m14.086s
56. GTE P Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari -