Brendon Hartley will start on the front row for tonight’s 8 Hours of Portimao, falling fractionally shy of pole position to the Alpine team.
Hartley was given the thumbs up to steer the No.8 Toyota in the session but was languishing down in fifth overall after his opening run.
However, after a stop for a fresh set of tyres, Hartley put in a scintillating lap to surge to provisional pole.
Despite looking on course to seal the number one spot, a late improvement from Matthieu Vaxiviere in the ‘grandfathered’ Alpine LMP1 car pipped the Kiwi for pole.
Ultimately, 0.094s was the difference between Vaxivere and Hartley.
“I think it was possible to get pole position,” Hartley said.
“It was very close in the end but Alpine took it. Well done to them.
“We are still experimenting with our new Hypercar and we tried something different.
“On the first run we used scrubbed tyres because we saw in practice that the new tyres were struggling.
“We had a back-up plan in case that didn’t work, which was good because it didn’t work. That put some pressure on for my last lap and I feel happy with the job we did.”
Hartley and co-drivers Sebastien Beumi and kazuki Nakajima currently lead the World Endurance Championship after one round.
Mike Conway put the second Toyota Hypercar in third and will start ahead of the lead LMP2 entry of Tom Blomqvist.
It was not the most ideal debut for the Glickenhaus 007 Hypercar, which only managed 11th overall under the command of Richard Westbrook.
Jaxon Evans will start second in the GTE-AM class and fifth overall in the GTE field.
Christian Reid was at the helm of the No.77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche and missed out on pole in class by one-tenth.
The 8 Hours of Portimao will be live on Sky Sport channel 600 from 11 pm NZT.