Fernando’s first qualifying session in a sportscar didn’t exactly grab headlines in the same way as he did at the Indy 500, but although 13th on the grid might not sound spectacular it was actually a very good effort.
With the pure pace of the IMSA DPi cars and the Oreca LMP2s it was always going to be tough for the United Autosports team and its Ligiers to make any sort of impression at the front, but Alonso managed to get within a second on pole position and was also more than a second faster than any other Ligier driver. Considering that the sister car was being driven by reigning LMP2 champion Bruno Senna, that’s really not bad at all.
He wasn’t too fussed about his low grid position though, saying that there would be plenty of time to make up the difference in the race – which you’d expect, given that it lasts for a whole day!
“Knowing it’s a 24-hour race, it was probably the least important qualifying of my life until now. Normally I have 60 laps or 70 laps to recover what I did in qualifying; on Saturday we have 24 hours. Qualifying was not the key point of this weekend, hopefully.
“I think it was a good session for us. It was nice to have some laps finally in the car with no traffic, in free practice there was a lot of traffic and a lot of things go on, but in the prototype qualy you can put some laps together and get used to the car a little bit more.
Pole position was a very closely fought thing. Helio Castroneves looked to have secured pole in Penske’s all-new Acura, only to be pipped by just seven-thousandths of a second in the dying moments by Renger van der Zande (the most fun racing driver name to say, ever) in the Cadillac.