It was a hot qualifying for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Portugal.
The quali would start at 18.00 so that the drivers wouldn’t have to drive in the middle of the scorching afternoon sun, but even then the temperature still wasn’t cooled down enough.
The seventeen GTE cars were out on the track to open the qualifying, with the asphalt temperature at just under forty degrees, and the air temperature at twenty-three.
AF Corse Ferrari #83 was the first car to get out of the pits, as well as the first one to be penalized for Track Limits, on their first flying lap.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 outbraked themselves in Turn 8 – something that also happened in FP3, where de continued straight on with locked wheels. Luckily, Thomas Flohr could pull away from the gravel, but he also scattered quite a lot of small stones all over the track, which made things a bit more difficult for the other drivers.
Team Project 1 Porsche #56 was the first one to set a fast time, while all the other GTE Pro cars got caught in the yellow flag zone.
When they finally got a clear track, Porsche #92 set the fastest time among the Pro cars.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 was P1 in the GTE Am class, while Cetilar Racing Ferrari #47 was also faster than the time set by Team Project 1 Porsche #56 earlier.
AF Corse Ferrari #52 got a penalty for track limits on all their flying laps and thus had to start from last.
Egidio Perfetti in Team Project 1 Porsche #56 grabbed pole position (with Matteo Cairoli and Riccardo Pera), ahead of Christian Ried (with Jaxon Evans and Matt Campbell) in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77, and Cetilar Racing Ferrari #47 with Roberto Lacorte (and Giorgio Sernagiotto and Antonio Fuoco).
Manuela Gostner drove possibly her best qualifying in Iron Lynx Ferrari #85, which she shares with Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey, securing the fifth position in the GTE Am field.
Porsche #92 with Kevin Estre (and Michael Christensen and Neel Jani) took Pole Position in GTE Pro category, ahead of James Calado (and Alessandro Pier Guidi) in AF Corse Ferrari #51, while Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni (and Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki) took P3.
Afterwards, it was time for the fifteen LMP cars to do their qualifying. The practices had shown that the LMP2 cars were very close to the Hypercars, but would it still be the case in the qualifying?
Some of the Hypercar competitors, however, got their first flying lap deleted, which meant that Glickenhaus Racing #709 was the best Hypercar after the first flying lap.
JOTA was first and second in LMP2, but we weren’t even halfway through quali yet.
Alpine Elf Matmut #36 set the fastest time of the weekend so far, and took general P1.
Some of the teams chose to pit after new tires and then make an extra attempt.
DragonSpeed USA #21 got their lap times deleted again and again due to Track Limits, but they finally set a time in the very last second.
It was Pole Position to Alpine Elf Matmut #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere (and Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao), followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley (as well as Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima), while Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway (and Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez) was in P3. Glickenhaus Racing #709 qualified in the middle of the LMP2 field, which was very close to the laptimes of the Hypercars.
JOTA #28 with Tom Blomqvist (and Sean Gelael and Stoffel Vandoorne) took Pole Position in LMP2, in front of their teammates in #38 with local hero Antonio Felix da Costa (and Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson), while Racing Team Nederland #29 was the quickest LMP2 Pro/Am car, and third in LMP2 category with Job van Uitert (and Frits van Eerd and Giedo van der Garde). The otherwise dominating and championship-leading United Autosports USA #22 had to be happy with P4 for Paul Di Resta (and Phil Hanson and Wayne Boyd).
The top three in Hypercar was within 0,176 of each other, while both JOTA cars were also within a second from the general pole position.
It looks like we’ll be getting an exciting 8-hour race tomorrow, which starts at 12.00 CET. But you can already tune in at 11.30 when FIAWEC.com begins their live stream.