The Qualifying for the 4 Hours at Shanghai International Circuit was run this morning European time.
31 FIA World Endurance Championship cars had made the trip to China, where Proton Competition Porsche #78 was back in the field again, after having competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier in the year.
The GTE cars were first out on track for their 20 minutes of qualifying.
The aforementioned #78 had an early spin, but Louis Prette swiftly resumed.
Team Project 1 Porsche #56 were the first to put down a fast lap amongst the GTE Am car, with their first driver in the car. They had opted to put in Matteo Cairoli, who had set a new fastest lap of GTE Am cars earlier in the day.
Aston Martin Racing #97 was setting the pace in the GTE Pro with Maxime Martin behind the wheel, until he was bettered by Nicki Thiim in the sister AMR #95, with AF Corse Ferrari #51 driven by James Calado in third. Michael Christensen in Porsche #92 was slowest of the GTE Pro field.
But a second driver had to get a go in the car like always, before the starting grid was settled.
Egidio Perfetti in #56 did quite a good follow-up on Cairoli’s super lap, and initially set the fastest combined time in GTE Am.
Kevin Estre set an astonishingly fast time in Porsche #92 jumping all the way to P1 on average laptime.
So after 20 minutes of running it was Team Project 1 Porsche #56 on Pole Position in GTE Am with Matteo Cairoli, Egidio Perfetti and David Heinemeier Hansson. Aston Martin Racing #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner in P2, while Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matt Campbell in third.
GTE Am championship leaders AF Corse #83 with Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen only managed 10th fastest time, but they had a bit of a success ballast to carry around.
Championship leaders Porsche #92 with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen kept P1 amongst the GTE Pro cars, ahead of Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, while their AMR teammates in #97 with Alexander Lynn and Maxime Martin grabbed third starting position.
Then it was time for the 13 LMP cars to qualify.
Rebellion Racing #1 started with an impressive time driven by Gustavo Menezes, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Kamui Kobayashi, and Team LNT Ginetta #6 with Charlie Robertson.
Nicolas Lapierre in Cool Racing #42 continued to be lightning fast in the LMP2 category, setting fastest time of all, ahead of Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 with Will Stevens, and High Class Racing #33 with Kenta Yamashita.
But it was all down to the second driver in the car, before the grid was finally settled.
If you thought Menezes had done a good lap – well, teammate Bruno Senna cut another 0,3 of a second off the time. Mike Simpson in Team LNT #6 got that car into second.
Antonin Borga in Cool Racing #42 did very well to follow up on Lapierre’s time, while Gabriel Aubry also kept the position for #37.
Championship leaders Racing Team Nederland #29 had a technical issue with the car, so Frits van Eerd didn’t get to set a time, so they will be starting last in the LMP2 category.
Rebellion Racing #1 with Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato got Pole Position, ahead of Team LNT #6 with Mike Simpson, Charlie Robertson and Guy Smith, while Team LNT #5 with Jordan King, Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev was P3. Championship leaders Toyota Gazoo Racing were P4 and P5 with #7 and #8. So that is the first time since Sebring 2012 in the FIA WEC, that a non-hybrid car is on overall Pole Position. So the success handicap finally worked out, with Toyota being slowed a theoretical 2,74 seconds compared to the non-hybrid competition.
In LMP2 category we saw Cool Racing #42 with Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga grabbing Pole, ahead of Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 with Gabriel Aubry, Will Stevens and Ho-Pin Tung, while United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Paul Di Resta managed an average good enough for P3, pushing High Class Racing #33 with Kenta Yamashita, Anders Fjordbach and Mark Patterson down to P4.
So we could be in for a very exciting 4 Hours of Shanghai, starting Sunday morning at 05.00 CET.