Audi starts Le Mans after locking out the front row

Audi’s domination of Le Mans continues with two hybrid race cars on the front row for the start of today’s 24 hour endurance race.

In fact all three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, belonging to Audi Sport Team Joest, took the best three grid positions presenting an ominous sight for the pursuing Toyota hybrids which qualified more than two seconds behind.

It follows last year’s hybrid victory for Audi at the 13.629-kilometre race track.

After a heated battle on both days of qualifying, Team Joest car #2 driven by Loïc Duval came away with a fastest time of 3m 22.349s (242.5 km/h), which was set on Wednesday night and remained unbeaten on Thursday.

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For the 31-year-old Frenchman, who is running together with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, this marks his first pole position at Le Mans, and the eighth for Audi.

It’s not the first time Audi has secured the front row though – they achieved the same feat in the year 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2012, making it an impressive if somewhat predictable outcome.

Let’s hope the Toyotas and Nissans are able to fight back during the race.

Starting alongside Duval/Kristensen/McNish is the #1 R18 e-tron quattro of last year’s winners Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer. Led by Lotterer, they qualified just three tenths behind the #2 car, setting their fastest time on a drying track late on Thursday night.

The #3 R18 e-tron quattro secured third place, driven by Le Mans newcomer Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and Oliver Jarvis.

Coverage of the race, which starts at 14:00 CET, will be available across 27 broadcast channels including Eurosport, but just in case you’ve only got a web connection, there will be onboard footage of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars available at www.audi-motorsport.com.

Qualifying results

1 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 22.349s
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 23.696s
3 di Grassi/Gené/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 24.341s
4 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin (Toyota) 3m 26.654s
5 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima (Toyota) 3m 26.676s
6 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola-Toyota) 3m 28.935s
7 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng (Lola-Toyota) 3m 32.167s
8 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD-Honda) 3m 36.547s
9 Pla/Heinemeier/Brundle (Morgan-Nissan) 3m 38.621s
10 Rusinov/Martin/Conway (Oreca-Nissan) 3m 39.535s