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Porsche on pole position for 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours

Porsche's trio of 919 Hybrids will start this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours from the top three positions of the grid after maintaining their supremacy in final qualifying

Neel Jani's time of 3m16.887s in the #18 Porsche he shares with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, set early in the first of three qualifying sessions held on Wednesday night, was good enough to hold on to top spot throughout today's pair of two-hour sessions.

It is the fastest pole lap set at Le Mans since the introduction of the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight, and the sixth fastest in history in terms of laptime regardless of configuration.

It is also the first Porsche to take pole at Le Mans since Michele Alboreto in the Joest WSC 95 in 1997.

Timo Bernhard qualified the #17 Porsche second, again with his time set early in Wednesday's session, with the #19 car third fastest.

None of the Porsches improved in the final two-hour session, with Audi locking out positions four through six.

Filipe Albuquerque was the best-placed driver to improve a car's qualifying time in the final session, but his marginal gain was not good enough to improve the #9 Audi's position from sixth place.

That means the #8 Audi is the best placed of the trio, with the #7 car of 2014 winners Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler behind it in fifth.

Toyota continued to struggle, ending up 2.5s behind the slowest Audi and 6.656s off the outright pace with its lead car, the #2 machine qualified by Stephane Sarrazin, in seventh ahead of the #1 machine qualified by Buemi.

Rebellion held on to ninth and 10th place, with fellow LMP1 privateer ByKolles 11th with its CLM, which jumped up the order in the second session earlier today in the hands of Pierre Kaffer.

This was despite a late attack from Nissan, with Harry Tincknell putting the #22 GT-R LM NISMO into 12th place with just over 10 minutes remaining, just three-tenths off the CLM and 20.108s off pole.

The #23 car of Jann Mardenborough was relegated to 13th as a result, with the #21 Nissan of Tsugio Matsuda in 15th place and behind the fastest LMP2 car.

LMP2: KCMG REMAINS IN CHARGE

KCMG will start from pole in LMP2, thanks to Richard Bradley's 3m38.032s lap on Wednesday night.

The team had a quiet session, missing the opening 50 minutes while the suspension problem that ended its run in the first phase was repaired, but still finished on top.

Its closest challenger was LMP2's biggest mover, the #26 G-Drive (OAK) Ligier, which climbed to second thanks to a 3m38.939s lap from Sam Bird with an hour remaining.

Greaves Motorsport will line up third - its Gibson shed a sizeable piece of bodywork after the final restart - ahead of Jota Sport and Signatech Alpine.

While KCMG enjoys a buffer of nearly one second at the top, a similar margin covers that group.

After a troubled Thursday, Murphy Prototypes climbed from 14th overnight to eighth, with Nathanel Berthon behind the wheel.

GTE: ASTON KEEPS BRUNI AT BAY

Aston Martin and Ferrari will occupy the top two spots on the GTE Pro grid after Gianmaria Bruni vaulted the #51 AF Corse 458 Italia up the order in the final session.

Richie Stanaway's 3m54.928s in the #99 AMR Vantage, set in Wednesday's opening qualifying segment, remained unbeaten on Thursday.

Bruni had put the Ferrari third on Wednesday night but both the team's Pro cars lost their laptimes due to track-limits offences.

The Italian made good progress through the third and final session though, winding up less than a tenth slower than the lead Aston.

Vantages completed the top four, with Pedro Lamy going third-quickest in the pacesetting GTE Am #98 car, ahead of the Stefan Mucke-led #97.

The second Ferrari recovered to fifth overall and fourth of the Pros in the hands of James Calado, ahead of the #95 Aston.

Antonio Garcia put the best of the Corvettes sixth in the Pro class, but team-mate Jan Magnussen shunted the #63 C7.R heavily at the Porsche Curves in the second qualifying session and the car did not appear for the rest of the evening.

The Dane was unhurt but the Chevrolet is believed to be substantially damaged.

Porsche's struggles continued, with the #91 and #92 Manthey-run 911 RSRs seventh and eighth in GTE Pro but split by two other GTE Am cars.

They were the #83 AF Corse Ferrari and that team's SMP-badged #72 458 Italia, second and third in class respectively but a long way off the #98 Aston's benchmark.

STARTING GRID

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time
1 LMP1 R.Dumas, N.Jani, M.Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 3m16.887s
2 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 3m17.767s
3 LMP1 N.Hulkenberg, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche Team Porsche 3m18.862s
4 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m19.866s
5 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m20.561s
6 LMP1 F.Albuquerque, M.Bonanomi, R.Rast Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m20.997s
7 LMP1 A.Wurz, S.Sarrazin, M.Conway Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.543s
8 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.767s
9 LMP1 N.Prost, M.Beche, N.Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m26.874s
10 LMP1 A.Imperatori, D.Kraihamer, D.Abt Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m28.930s
11 LMP2 M.Howson, R.Bradley, N.Lapierre KCMG ORECA/Nissan 3m38.032s
12 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.Canal, S.Bird G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m38.939s
13 LMP2 G.Hirsch, G.Paletou, J.Lancaster Greaves Motorsport Gibson/Nissan 3m38.958s
14 LMP2 S.Dolan, M.Evans, O.Turvey JOTA Gibson/Nissan 3m39.004s
15 LMP2 N.Panciatici, P-L.Chatin, V.Capillaire Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan 3m39.699s
16 LMP2 P.Thiriet, T.Gommendy, L.Badey Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m39.805s
17 LMP2 C.Cumming, L.Vanthoor, K.Estre Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m40.058s
18 LMP2 K.Chandhok, M.Patterson, N.Berthon Murphy Prototypes ORECA/Nissan 3m40.690s
19 LMP2 G.Yacaman, P.Derani, R.Gonzalez G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m40.967s
20 LMP2 P.Ragues, O.Webb, Z.Amberg Team SARD Morand Morgan/SARD 3m41.250s
21 LMP2 L.Roussel, D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung Pegasus Racing Morgan/Nissan 3m42.023s
22 LMP2 M.Mediani, D.Markozov, N.Minassian SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.077s
23 LMP2 N.Leventis, D.Watts, J.Kane Strakka Racing Dome/Nissan 3m42.237s
24 LMP2 M.Aleshin, K.Ladygin, A.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.417s
25 LMP2 S.Sharp, R.Dalziel, D.H.Hansson Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m42.453s
26 LMP2 E.Brown, J.van Overbeek, J.Fogarty Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m44.631s
27 LMP2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, J.Barbosa Krohn Racing Ligier/Judd 3m44.854s
28 LMP2 J.Nicolet, J-M.Merlin, E.Maris Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m52.843s
29 LMP1 S.Trummer, P.Kaffer, T.Monteiro Team ByKolles CLM/AER 3m36.825s
30 LMP1 H.Tincknell, M.Krumm, A.Buncombe Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m36.995s
31 LMP1 O.Pla, J.Mardenborough, M.Chilton Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m37.291s
32 LMP1 T.Matsuda, M.Shulzhitskiy, L.Ordonez Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m38.691s
33 LMP2 P.Perret, I.Bellarosa, J.Ibanez Ibanez Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m45.350s
34 GTE Pro F.Rees, A.MacDowall, R.Stanaway Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m54.928s
35 GTE Pro G.Bruni, T.Vilander, G.Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.025s
36 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.102s
37 GTE Pro D.Turner, S.Mucke, R.Bell Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.466s
38 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, C.Nygaard, N.Thiim Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.783s
39 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen, J.Bergmeister Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m56.618s
40 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 3m56.723s
41 GTE Am V.Shaytar, A.Bertolini, A.Basov SMP Racing Ferrari 3m56.877s
42 GTE Pro P.Pilet, F.Makowiecki, W.Henzler Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m56.922s
43 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, J.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m57.081s
44 GTE Am J.Bleekemolen, B.Keating, M.Miller Riley Motorsports-Ti Auto SRT/Dodge 3m57.836s
45 GTE Am P.Dempsey, P.Long, M.Seefried Dempsey Racing - Proton Porsche 3m57.842s
46 GTE Am C.Ried, K.Al Qubaisi, K.Bachler Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 3m58.259s
47 GTE Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Mortimer AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.433s
48 GTE Am P.Mann, R.Giammaria, M.Cressoni AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.695s
49 GTE Am B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 3m58.946s
50 GTE Am G.Roda, P.Ruberti, K.Poulsen Larbre Competition Chevrolet 3m59.522s
51 GTE Am A.Al Faisal, K.Giermaziak, M.Avenatti JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m59.612s
52 GTE Am R.Goethe, S.Hall, F.Castellacci Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 4m01.146s
53 GTE Am J.San Chen, A.Kapadia, X.Maassen Team AAI Porsche 4m01.270s
54 GTE Pro D.Rigon, J.Calado, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.582s
55 GTE Am H.C.Chen, G.Vannelet, M.Parisy Team AAI Porsche 4m01.243s

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