Benoit Treluyer edged out Allan McNish by the narrowest of margins as Audi captured a one-two in qualifying for the Silverstone 6 Hours.
Both drivers had pitted for fresh rubber in the final five minutes, and found instant improvements as a result.
It was McNish who made the first move in the #2 R18 ultra, the Briton dropping down to a 1m43.887s with three minutes of the session to run.
Treluyer in the R18 e-tron was yet to come round however, and when he did it was the #1 car that headed the timesheets with a 1m43.663s.
McNish tried to respond as the flag flew, but while he did improve he fell desperately short, missing out on pole position by just one hundredth of a second.
Toyota had been involved in the pole fight until Audi's late rally, but under the guidance of Nicolas Lapierre the sole TS030 Hybrid nevertheless qualified third, seven tenths down on the benchmark time.
Both Lapierre and Treluyer also had wild moments - the former narrowly avoiding contact with Pierre Ragues as he dived into the pits, and the latter running wide and off-track early on.
Danny Watts was the top privateer LMP1 driver, finishing fourth in the #21 Strakka HPD.
LMP2 was similarly frantic, with the lead changing hands several times in the final minutes.
Nicolas Minassian held top spot in the #38 Jota Nissan-Zytek with 60 seconds to run, but eventually wound up third.
Stephane Sarrazin in the Starworks HPD was the first to demote him, but found himself similarly pushed down the order when Alex Brundle - who had spun earlier in the session - came around in a 1m49.964s to earn class pole for the #42 Greaves Nissan squad.
GT qualifying, run before the LMP1 session, built to a dramatic crescendo as track conditions steadily improved.
With just three minutes to run slick tyres finally became the preferable option, as evidence when James Walker flew to a 2m12.326s - around two second faster than anyone else - in the #66 JMW Ferrari he shares with Jonny Cocker.
Walker then spun on his final lap while trying to better his own benchmark, and was therefore unable to respond when, as the chequered flag flew, Richard Lietz put the #77 Felbermayr Porsche top.
Gianmaria Bruni claimed third in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, some way ahead of the Aston Martin Vantage and sister #71 458.
There was such a gap, in fact, that the #97 Vantage was not Aston Martin's top representative - that honour instead falling to the #98 GTE Am car driven by Stuart Hall and Roald Goethe.
Hall, taking over for qualifying, did enough to edge out Felbermayr's #88 Am Porsche of Christian Ried/Gianluca Roda/Paolo Ruberti.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time 1. P1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi 1m43.663s 2. P1 Kristensen/McNish Audi 1m43.673s 3. P1 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota 1m44.411s 4. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD 1m46.160s 5. P1 Prost/Jani Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m46.207s 6. P1 Belicchi/Primat Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m46.234s 7. P1 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck JRM HPD 1m46.758s 8. P2 Ordonez/Brundle/Brundle Greaves Zytek-Nissan 1m49.964s 9. P2 Potolicchio/Dalziel/Sarrazin Starworks HPD 1m49.997s 10. P2 Martin/Charouz/Graves ADR-Delta ORECA-Nissan 1m50.129s 11. P2 Dolan/Hancock/Minassian Jota Zytek-Nissan 1m50.165s 12. P2 Firth/Hughes/Hartley Murphy ORECA-Nissan 1m50.250s 13. P2 Mailleux/Lombard/Tresson Signatech ORECA-Nissan 1m50.624s 14. P2 Liuzzi/Rossiter/Weeda Lotus Lola-Lotus 1m50.688s 15. P2 Perez Companc/Ayari/Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan 1m50.775s 16. P2 Heinemeier Hansson/Baguette/Kraihamer OAK Morgan-Nissan 1m50.851s 17. P2 Sims/Jousse/Jousse Status Lola-Judd 1m50.919s 18. P2 Zugel/Gonzalez/Julian Greaves Zytek-Nissan 1m50.993s 19. P2 Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla OAK Morgan-Nissan 1m51.283s 20. P2 Panciatici/Ragues/Rusinov Signatech ORECA-Nissan 1m51.942s 21. P2 Holzer/Schultis/Albers Lotus Lola-Lotus 1m53.349s 22. P2 Giroix/Ihara/Deletraz Gulf Lola-Nissan 1m54.476s 23. GTE P Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr Porsche 2m09.564s 24. GTE P Walker/Cocker JMW Ferrari 2m10.018s 25. GTE P Fisichella/Bruni AF Ferrari 2m10.481s 26. GTE A Goethe/Hall Aston Martin 2m12.525s 27. GTE A Ried/Roda/Ruberti Felbermayr Porsche 2m12.965s 28. GTE P Fernandez/Mucke/Turner Aston Martin 2m14.150s 29. GTE P Bertolini/Beretta AF Ferrari 2m15.153s 30. GTE A Perazzini/Cioci/Griffin AF Ferrari 2m15.491s 31. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari 2m15.608s 32. GTE A Camathias/Palttala/Daniels JWA Porsche 2m16.466s 33. GTE A Adam/Howard/White Aston Martin 2m16.717s 34. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Rees Larbre Corvette 2m16.907s 35. GTE A Belloc/Bourret/Gibon Larbre Corvette 2m17.261s