The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid’s time of 3m19.733s was set in the first qualifying session by Jani on Wednesday evening, and due to the erratic weather on Thursday was never challenged, giving the Swiss driver back-to-poles along with teammates Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.

Timo Bernhard’s 3m20.203s lap in the #1 car he shares with Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, also set on Wednesday, ensured that Porsche locks out the front row for Saturday's race, the Weissach marque repeating its qualifying result from last year.

Unlike last season’s qualifying however, Toyota annexed the second row of the grid as the all-new turbocharged TS 050 Hybrid made significant improvements on its 2015 showing.

Stephane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson's times from first qualifying put the #6 car ahead of the #5, the former lapping just over a second off the pace.

The #6 car was the fastest in the wet in the final qualifying session, former F1 star Kamui Kobayashi posting a best time of 3m50.934s.

Audi meanwhile had a qualifying to forget, and perhaps lost out most from the poor weather due to lost track time for both of its R18 e-tron quattro cars.

The #7 entry driven by Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer was never able to get a comfortable set-up to exploit the best of the conditions. As a result, they will start fifth.

Just behind came the #8 Audi, which had initially been ahead of its sister car. However, Lucas di Grassi’s best time of 3m22.468s was deleted after the car was found to have breached the limit of fuel consumption, and it lost a position to the #7.

Rebellion Racing starts the race on the fourth row, with the #13 Rebellion R-One-AER car outpacing the #12 entry.

The Swiss team's only competition in the privateer LMP1 class, ByKolles, starts ninth after effecting fire-damage repairs overnight and setting a time eight seconds slower than the lead Rebellion.

G-Drive secures LMP2 pole

G-Drive Racing celebrated top spot in the LMP2 category, as Rene Rast claimed a clear pole position in the JOTA Sport-run Oreca #26 05-Nissan.

The works Audi driver, who is loaned out to G-Drive this season, set two laps which would have been good enough for pole in the car he shares with ex-Manor F1 driver Will Stevens and reigning WEC LMP2 champion Roman Rusinov.

As expected, the Oreca 05-Nissan package controlled the category and claimed the top four places. with the two Signatech-run, Alpine-branded #35 and #36 cars taking second and third places. Nelson Panciatici and Nicolas Lapierre set the times respectively.

Roberto Merhi’s late session time on Wednesday evening in the #44 Manor Oreca was good enough for fourth place on the team's La Sarthe debut, while Laurens Vanthoor’s effort in the Michael Shank Racing entry ensured the American team was the best placed Ligier runner in fifth.

Ford sweeps front row in GTE

The LMGTE Pro class saw Ford take a headline-grabbing and controversial 1-2-4-5 on its first appearance at Le Mans as a works team for 34 years.

Dirk Muller’s time of 3m51.185s in the #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA-entered car (also driven by Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais) beat Ryan Briscoe’s 3m51.497s late on in first qualifying.

With the UK-based Ford GT’s placing fourth and fifth, it was an ultra-successful resumption of the Ford story at La Sarthe, Muller's pole adding to previous overall poles for Ford entries in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

The continuation of the Ford vs Ferrari legend looks set to be renewed as the #51 AF Corse 488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi will start third with a lap that was just 0.383s off the pole time.

The LMGTE Pro class was effectively split in to two, as the Fords and Ferraris annexed the top seven positions, while the rest, including both works Porsches, Corvettes and Aston Martins, were well adrift.

LMGTE Am sees the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Rob Bell, Keita Sawa and Mok Weng start from pole ahead of the #98 Aston Martin trio Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.

Rain spoils final session

Parts of the La Sarthe track were flooded when a downpour hit the track after 12 minutes of the final two-hour session.

Many cars didn’t bother venturing out, but with equally poor weather forecast for Saturday, some teams took the opportunity to try wet settings.

But the steady rain soon became torrential and the red flag flew as some cars lost control due to aquaplaning. Matteo Mallucelli had the most lurid gyration as his Risi Competizione Ferraricompleted a high-speed 360 degree spin on the approach to the Dunlop chicane.

The session was actually resumed for the final 45 minutes, and although the track dried out slowly, the times being set were a long way from challenging those set in the previous sessions.

Qualifying times:

Pos. # Drivers Car Class Time Gap
1 2  Romain Dumas 
 Neel Jani 
 Marc Lieb 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 3'19.733  
2 1  Mark Webber 
 Timo Bernhard 
 Brendon Hartley 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 3'20.203 0.470
3 6  Stéphane Sarrazin 
 Kamui Kobayashi 
 Mike Conway 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 3'20.737 1.004
4 5  Anthony Davidson 
 Kazuki Nakajima 
 Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 3'21.903 2.170
5 7  Andre Lotterer 
 Marcel Fassler 
 Benoit Tréluyer 
Audi R18 LMP1 3'22.780 3.047
6 8  Lucas di Grassi 
 Loic Duval 
 Oliver Jarvis 
Audi R18 LMP1 3'22.823 3.090
7 13  Alexandre Imperatori 
 Dominik Kraihamer 
 Matheo Tuscher 
Rebellion R-One LMP1 3'26.586 6.853
8 12  Nick Heidfeld 
 Nelson Piquet Jr. 
 Nicolas Prost 
Rebellion R-One LMP1 3'27.348 7.615
9 4

 Oliver Webb

 Pierre Kaffer

 Simon Trummer

CLM P1/01 LMP1 3'34.168 14.435
10 26  Will Stevens 
 Roman Rusinov 
 René Rast 
Oreca 05 LMP2 3'36.605 16.872
11 35  Nelson Panciatici 
 Ho-Pin Tung 
 David Cheng 
Alpine A460 LMP2 3'37.175 17.442
12 36  Nicolas Lapierre 
 Gustavo Menezes 
 Stéphane Richelmi 
Alpine A460 LMP2 3'37.225 17.492
13 44  Roberto Merhi 
 Tor Graves 
 Matthew Rao 
Oreca 05 LMP2 3'38.037 18.304
14 49  Laurens Vanthoor 
 John Pew 
 Oswaldo Negri Jr 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'38.837 19.104
15 31  Pipo Derani 
 Ryan Dalziel 
 Chris Cumming 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'39.366 19.633
16 46  Mathias Beche 
 Pierre Thiriet 
 Ryo Hirakawa 
Oreca 05 LMP2 3'39.375 19.642
17 42  Nick Leventis 
 Danny Watts 
 Jonny Kane 
Gibson 015S LMP2 3'39.394 19.661
18 47  Matthew Howson 
 Richard Bradley 
 Tsugio Matsuda 
Oreca 05 LMP2 3'39.436 19.703
19 23  Paul-Loup Chatin 
 Fabien Barthez 
 Timothé Buret 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'39.470 19.737
20 33  Tristan Gommendy 
 Pu Junjin 
 Nick de Bruijn 
Oreca 05 LMP2 3'40.631 20.898
21 38  Giedo van der Garde 
 Simon Dolan 
 Jake Dennis 
Gibson 015S LMP2 3'40.685 20.952
22 43  Bruno Senna 
 Ricardo Gonzalez 
 Filipe Albuquerque 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'40.899 21.166
23 27  Maurizio Mediani 
 Nicolas Minassian 
 Mikhail Aleshin 
BR01 LMP2 3'41.132 21.399
24 28  Leo Roussel 
  Inès Taittinger 
 Remy Striebig 
Morgan LMP2 3'41.285 21.552
25 30  Scott Sharp 
 Ed Brown 
 Johannes van Overbeek 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'41.406 21.673
26 37  Vitaly Petrov 
 Viktor Shaytar 
 Kirill Ladygin 
BR01 LMP2 3'41.776 22.043
27 25

 Michael Munemann

 Chris Hoy

 Andrea Pizzatola

Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'42.088 22.355
28 41

 Memo Rojas

 Nathanael Berthon

 Julien Canal

Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'42.570 22.837
29 48  Jeroen Bleekemolen 
 Ben Keating 
 Marc Goossens 
Oreca 03R LMP2 3'43.508 23.775
30 34  Shinji Nakano 
 Nicolas Leutwiler 
 James Winslow 
Oreca 03R LMP2 3'43.590 23.857
31 22  Erik Maris 
 Vincent Capillaire 
 Jonathan Coleman
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'44.347 24.614
32 84

Frederic Sausset

Christophe Tinseau

Jean-Bernard Bouvet

Morgan CDNT 3'45.178 25.445
33 40  Tracy Krohn 
 Nic Jonsson 
 Joao Barbosa 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 3'45.213 25.480
34 68  Sébastien Bourdais 
 Joey Hand 
 Dirk Müller 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 3'51.185 31.452
35 69  Ryan Briscoe 
 Scott Dixon 
 Richard Westbrook 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 3'51.497 31.764
36 51  Gianmaria Bruni 
 James Calado 
 Alessandro Pier Guidi 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 3'51.568 31.835
37 67  Harry Tincknell 
 Andy Priaulx 
 Marino Franchitti 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 3'51.590 31.857
38 66  Stefan Mücke 
 Olivier Pla 
 Billy Johnson 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 3'52.038 32.305
39 71  Sam Bird 
 Davide Rigon 
 Andrea Bertolini 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 3'52.508 32.775
40 82  Giancarlo Fisichella 
 Toni Vilander 
 Matteo Malucelli 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 3'53.176 33.443
41 92  Frédéric Makowiecki 
 Earl Bamber 
 Jörg Bergmeister 
Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE PRO 3'54.918 35.185
42 95  Marco Sorensen 
 Nicki Thiim 
 Darren Turner 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE PRO 3'55.261 35.528
43 91  Nick Tandy 
 Patrick Pilet 
 Kevin Estre 
Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE PRO 3'55.332 35.599
44 97  Fernando Rees 
 Richie Stanaway 
 Jonathan Adam 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE PRO 3'55.380 35.647
45 77  Richard Lietz 
 Michael Christensen 
 Philipp Eng 
Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE PRO 3'55.426 35.693
46 64  Oliver Gavin 
 Tommy Milner 
 Jordan Taylor 
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 3'55.848 36.115
47 61  Rob Bell 
 Mok Weng Sun 
 Keita Sawa 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 3'56.827 37.094
48 98  Pedro Lamy 
 Paul Dalla Lana 
 Mathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE AM 3'57.198 37.465
49 88  David Heinemeier Hansson
 Patrick Long 
 Khaled Al Qubaisi 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 3'57.513 37.780
50 55  Duncan Cameron 
 Matt Griffin 
 Aaron Scott 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 3'57.596 37.863
51 83  François Perrodo 
 Emmanuel Collard 
 Rui Aguas 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 3'57.742 38.009
52 63  Jan Magnussen 
 Antonio Garcia 
 Ricky Taylor 
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 3'57.967 38.234
53 50  Pierre Ragues 
 Yutaka Yamagishi 
 Jean-Philippe Belloc 
Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE AM 3'58.018 38.285
54 60  Christina Nielsen 
 Johnny Laursen 
 Mikkel Mac 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 3'58.760 39.027
55 78  Christian Ried 
 Wolf Henzler 
 Joel Camathias 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 3'59.034 39.301
56 62   Bill Sweedler 
 Townsend Bell 
 Jeff Segal 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 4'00.008 40.275
57 89  Marc Miller 
 Cooper MacNeil 
 Lehman Keen 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 4'00.107 40.374
58 86  Michael Wainwright 
 Adam Carroll 
 Ben Barker 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 4'01.046 41.313
59 57  Mark Patterson 
 Johnny O'Connell 
 Oliver Bryant 
Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE AM 4'02.326 42.593
60 99  Gary Hirsch 
 Liam Griffin 
 Andrew Howard 
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE AM 4'03.148 43.415

Gallery: Porsche earns pole position at 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans