The 40-year-old Dumfries-born driver, who bids for his third and Audi's ninth Le Mans race win, set a personal fastest time of 3mins 22.176secs around the 8.47-mile circuit in his Audi R15 TDI – 2.485secs slower than the pole-starting Peugeot of Frenchman Sbastien Bourdais (3:19.711).
"Significant progress was made in the final qualifying sessions – not only in terms of improving my grid position but in getting a comfortable and consistent car for the race," said McNish. "Between Wednesday and Thursday everybody worked hard to use the three programmes and bring together some big improvements on the set-ups and the balance of the car."
Peugeot, meanwhile, locked out the first two rows of the grid. Former Formula One driver Bourdais was followed by another ex-F1 racer, Alex Wurz, with Stephane Sarrazin third and Nicolas Lapierre fourth.