Aston Martin Racing's pair of V8-powered Vantage GTEs will start from second and third on the grid in their respective classes following the last of three qualifying sessions ahead of the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The #97 Vantage GTE secured second position in the fiercely competitive GTE Pro category with a time of 3m 55.870s – two seconds quicker than last year's pole position time – while the #99 car qualified third in the GTE Am class having set a best time of 3m 58.725s around the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

Danish racer Allan Simonsen piloted the #99 car – which is being run in partnership with Aston Martin Racing's long-standing partner team Young Driver AMR – to its encouraging grid position during the very first qualifying session.

Along with team-mates and countrymen Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard, Simonsen will also target the podium in the GTE Am class.

Simonsen added: "I'm very happy to be starting the race from third in class, but at the end of the day a 24-hour race isn't so dependant on where you start. We have good speed in the car and I think we could have gone even quicker in qualifying, but this sets us up for a strong race. We have our sights set on the podium, but I'm confident that we can do even better than that."

John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, was encouraged by the performance of both cars: "Second and third are terrific qualifying results. We knew coming to Le Mans this year that the latest evolution of the Vantage GTE had real potential and these results prove that.

It would have been nice to be on pole, but in a 24-hour race these first and second row positions are great places to start.

Looking at the sector times I don't think that we had traffic free laps with either car, so the team can be satisfied with the outcome

"We achieved what we had set out to with both cars, and in fact chose not to run the #99 Vantage GTE in the final session so as to not take any unnecessary risks. Given the strength of our driver line-ups and the speed of the cars, I think we're on course for really strong results.

"We spent a lot of time working on longer stints on the tyres and given that we've had no technical issues with either car all week, we can be really optimistic for the race."

Under grey skies, Allan Simonsen started the #99 Young Driver AMR in the worlds greatest sportscar race from third and promptly picked off the two leading GT-AM cars to take the top position. A fuel stop did nothing to hurt their chances, as he continued on to the second stint. However, the hand of fate would rear its ugly head.

Allan explains: "In the warm up this morning I felt the engine having a miss, but the weather conditions were so bad that I could really only drive at half throttle without spinning the tyres. So that made it very hard for the team to diagnose the issue, since the problem did not show up on the telemetry.

After I went out for my second stint, the misfire came again, this time it was rather bad, so I pitted and we lost the best part of an hour before we went back out. That ruined the race and then Kristian had the crash under unrectified circumstances.

It is really disappointing because this car has so much potential and is a delight to drive."