Germany's Andre Lotterer competes with an Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro N°1 during the first qualifying practice session of the 80th edition of Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race, on June 13, 2012 in Le Mans, western France. He clocked the best lqp time in 3’25.453. AFP PHOTO / JEAN FRANCOIS MONIER

Germany's Andre Lotterer put defending champions Audi on pole for the Le Mans 24 Hours sports-car race for the second year in a row on Thursday night in a first for a hybrid car.

Lotterer, who won the 2011 race with Switzerland's Marcel Faessler and France's Benoit Treluyer in the No.2 diesel Audi, put in a best lap of three minutes 23.787 seconds in the No.1 R18 e-tron car.

Lotterer said afterwards: “I did not get all the perfect sectors together, but I think we can still be happy.”

Audi also took second place in qualifying for the 80th edition of the race at the high speed Sarthe circuit with the R18-ultra driven by French duo Romain Dumas and Loic Duval with Spaniard Marc Gene.


Toyota qualified third on their return to Le Mans after a 13-year absence with Britain's Anthony Davidson at the wheel of their petrol hybrid for the final quick lap in dry and warm conditions.

Denmark's eight-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen will be fourth on the grid in the No.2 Audi e-tron he shares with Britain's Allan McNish and Italian Rinaldo Capello.

Another former F1 driver, Karun Chandhok, was on course to become the first Indian to start the race after the JRM Honda qualified 11th with Australian David Brabham and Scotland's Peter Dumbreck.

The team had a difficult day, however, after damaging the gearbox on Wednesday.

Chandhok said: “Yesterday I hit some debris through Tertre Rouge and the car felt like it took off. We didn't know until we checked thoroughly overnight but the impact of coming back to ground cracked the gearbox,” .

“The team then decided to change the engine, which was pretty logical considering we were changing tomorrow anyway. Although I would have liked to drive tonight, I'm just looking forward to getting behind the wheel at my first Le Mans on Saturday.” - Reuters