Ford has claimed class pole for the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the American manufacturer taking four of the top five positions in the GTE-Pro category in its Le Mans return.
Dirk Mueller led a Ford GT 1-2, with the German ace taking his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry to a best lap of 3:51.185 in the final moments of Wednesday’s qualifying session.
Mueller pipped the No. 69 Ford of Ryan Briscoe by 0.312 seconds, giving the two IMSA-based entries a proverbial sweep of the front row in class.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni split the four Fords, having qualified his turbocharged Prancing Horse third in class at a 3:51.568.
The Nos. 67 and 66 Fords completed the top-five, respectively, ahead of the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari and No. 82 Risi Competiizione entry, which all showed a significant pace advantage over the competition in the dry.
In fact, the quickest non-Ford or Ferrari was the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR in seventh, some 3.7 seconds slower than Mueller’s pole-winning lap.
American favorites Corvette Racing will start from the rear of the GTE-Pro class field in 13th and 14th, after struggling in qualifying with its Corvette C7.Rs.
Clearwater Racing grabbed GTE-Am pole honors, thanks to a 3:56.827 lap by Rob Bell in the No. 61 Ferrari 458 Italia.
The Englishman edged out the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Pedro Lamy by 0.371 seconds, with the No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche set to start third.
It was one of only nine cars to make improvements in Qualifying 2, thanks to Patrick Long’s 3:57.513 lap set prior to the arrival of rain Thursday evening.
The race gets underway Saturday at 3 p.m. local time, with live coverage on the FOX Sports family of networks in the U.S. and across Eurosport and other networks worldwide.