Rebellion Racing will start from pole position in tomorrow’s Lone Star Le Mans WEC race at COTA, after Norman Nato and Gustavo Menezes combinedfor a lap that was 1.6 seconds quicker than the two Toyotas.
It was an impressive feat for the team, which rebounded from blowing an engine in Free Practice 2 just hours before qualifying, leaving its mechanics with the task of a full engine and loom change before the session.
Rebellion’s pole was its third straight this season.
“I was pushing really hard to get in the 46s, but at the end of the day we’ll start in P1 tomorrow. Norman did a great job to finish it. Great job by the guys — we blew an engine two hours ago; they did a great job to fix the situation. It’s going to be a great race tomorrow,” said Menezes, who combined with Nato to set a 1m47.530s.
The No. 7 Toyota will start from second, with the No. 8 third.
In LMP2, the Cool Racing ORECA took pole, Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga reeling off a 1m49.910s to take the position by just a tenth over the United Autosports entry, whose crew felt they had lucked into a front-row spot.
A spokesperson from the British squad told RACER that the team would most likely have ended up further down the list had a red flag not been called for the High Class ORECA stopping on track, ruining the fastest laps of several other teams in the class.
The Signatech Alpine ELF entry wound up third with Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Goodyear-shod ORECA fourth.
In the GTE Pro class, Aston Martin secured pole with its No. 95 Vantage AMR. Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen set near-identical times, Sorensen a 2m00.742s before Thiim’s 2m00.725s, which combined for a 2m00.733s — two tenths faster than any other pair in the class.
“That’s what makes the difference — consistency,” noted Thiim, who, with teammate Sorensen, leads the championship.
“That was intense — low fuel and new tires, so fun! I’m happy for the boys. We struggled in FP2 and they improved the car before the session. What a qualifying — it’s been a long time since I enjoyed qualifying that much.”
Porsche came closest, a 2m00.952s from Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in the No. 92 giving them a front-row starting spot.
The times from the Porsche duo split the Aston Martins during the session, as briefly the No. 97 of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn sat second, locking out the front row. But the pair eventually slipped to third.
Outside the top three was the No. 91 Porsche, ahead of the pair of AF Corse Ferraris.
The guest entry from Corvette Racing lacked pace, Jan Magnussen revealing after the session that the C8.R suffered with an issue that prevented him from setting a competitive time.
“We had good improvement from first practice to second practice; I was quite happy with everything after second practice,” the Dane said. “Qualifying was a step back with an unfortunate issue that we were able to address for Mike (Rockenfeller)’s run; but it meant I was unable to go for a lap time. That’s obviously very disappointing, but we’re here to learn everything we can, and we’re definitely doing that. Hopefully we can have a problem-free race tomorrow and get the best out of it.”
Unable to beat the GTE Am pole time, the C8.R will start seventh (and last) in GTE Pro, ninth in GTE.
Two Am cars beat the Corvette’s time, the No. 56 Project 1 Porsche and No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.
Matteo Cairoli and Egidio Perfetti’s 2m02.784s was a stellar combined time in the No. 56, but only marginally quicker than Ross Gunn and Paul Dalla Lana’s 2m02.830s that put the No. 98 second.
“It’s my first time out here in Austin. I like the track. I did a little mistake but recovered. I was pleased with the car — I knew the car was good because Matteo had done an excellent lap before me. It was all about keeping cool and bringing it home,” Perfetti said.
UP NEXT: Tomorrow’s six-hour WEC race at COTA is set to start at midday Central time.