Porsche edges out Toyota for WEC Shanghai pole

© Porsche

Porsche will start Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round in Shanghai, China from pole position after defending champions Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber edged out Toyota’s no. 5 crew in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Webber and Hartley combined for a two-lap average of 1:44.462 at the Shanghai International Circuit, beating Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima by just 0.06 seconds come the checkered flag.

Porsche was forced to send Hartley out for a second run late on after his first flying lap was scratched for a track limits violation, only for the New Zealander to do enough with his final effort to give the German marque pole.

Webber and Hartley will be joined in the Porsche 919 Hybrid by Timo Bernhard on Sunday, in what will be the no. 1 crew’s penultimate race together before Webber’s retirement at the end of the season.

In what is also its second-to-last race in the WEC, Audi qualified strongly as title contenders Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis charged to third on the grid, 0.148 seconds off the pole time. The sister R18 will start fifth behind the no. 6 Toyota, while the championship-leading Porsche no. 2 crew could only qualify sixth.

LMP2 saw Manor pick up its first class pole position in the WEC as Matt Rao and Alex Lynn posted a two-lap average of 1:54.225, giving them P1 by 0.157 seconds ahead of the no. 36 Signatech Alpine Nissan.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing swept to a one-two finish in GTE Pro with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell setting the pace in the no. 67 Ford GT. The no. 66 shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla slotted into P2, with Aston Martin’s no. 95 Vantage finishing third.

Ferrari was left hamstrung by an overnight Balance of Performance tweak that saw the boost pressure on its 488 GTEs reduced, making P4 something of an achievement for James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni in the no. 51 entry.

Aston Martin Racing’s no. 98 car took its third straight pole in GTE Am as Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy finished three-tenths clear of the field despite having an early lap disallowed for exceeding track limits. The no. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia will start second in class.