Porsche swept the front row for the first time in over a year in qualifying Saturday for this weekend's Mexico City round of the World Endurance Championship.Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard combined to give the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid pole position ahead of teammates Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer in the No. 1 entry.Hartley set the pace during the first runs with a 1:24.459, which put him three tenths up on Mike Conway in the best of the Toyota TS050 Hybrids. Tandy was third quickest less than half a tenth back.Lotterer was the fastest of the second batch of drivers with a 1:24.614, but a 1:24.665 from Bernhard was enough to keep the No. 2 Porsche at the top of the timesheets. Their 1:24.562 average was a tenth and a half quicker than the 1:24.710s average of their teammates.Argentinian Jose Maria Lopez ended up a tenth slower than teammate Conway and was given another set of tires to go again, but had to abort his lap after being blocked by a LMP2 car. That left them third, another tenth back on 1:24.802."It was a tidy lap, but it was close,” Hartley said. “Our car has been really strong all weekend – we basically haven't changed it since we arrived."That's no mean feat given the altitude and shows that the team did a great job."Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi qualified the second Toyota fourth, neither driver breaking the 1:25 barrier.The Signatech Alpine squad took LMP2 pole with Andre Negro and Nicolas Lapierre. Silver-rated driver Negrao was fastest after the opening runs with a 1:32.775 which Lapierre almost matched with a 1:32.844.
That gave them a 1:32.809 average, which put them three tenths up on the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA qualified by Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung.Julien Canal and Bruno Senna were a further half a second back in third in the best of the Rebellion ORECAs.Davide Rigon and Sam Bird took a second GTE Pro pole of the season aboard the No. 71 AF Corse factory Ferrari 488 GTE.Rigon's 1:39.658 put the car third after he had to abort his first flying lap and go again. Bird then set the fastest lap of the session with a 1:39.162 to give them an average of 1:32.425 and the class pole.Nicki Thiim set second fastest time of the 20-minute session in the fastest of the Aston Martin Vantage GTEs with a 1:39.270. That vaulted the car he shares with Marco Sorensen up from seventh place after the first runs.Sorensen was given another run but didn't improve, the Danish duo ending up a tenth back on a 1:39.534 average. The two Ganassi Fords had been first and second after the first runs in the hands of Andy Priaulx and Stefan Mucke, but neither Harry Tincknell and Oliver Pla weren't able to match the pace of Bird and Thiim.The Fords ended up third and fourth, two and three tenths down on the Ferrari respectively.Matteo Cairoli and Christian Ried took GTE Am pole in the Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR. They beat Aston Martin duo Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana, who were bidding for a fourth class pole of the season, by a tenth.
By Gary Watkins
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