Le Mans 24h: Toyota locks out front row in final qualifying

Le Mans 24h: Toyota locks out front row in final qualifying
Jamie Klein
By: Jamie Klein
Jun 15, 2017, 10:00 PM

Toyota will start the 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours from the front row after sealing a 1-2 in Thursday evening's third and final qualifying session.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin
Mike Conway, Stéphane Sarrazin, Toyota Gazoo Racing
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin
#9 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Jose Maria Lopez, Yuji Kunimoto, Nicolas Lapierre
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin

Kamui Kobayashi’s record-breaking 3m14.791s lap from second qualifying was never threatened in the final two hours of running, meaning he and his teammates in the #7 TS050 Hybrid, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin, will begin Saturday's race from pole.

They will be joined on the front row by the sister #8 machine thanks to a lap of 3m17.128s from Kazuki Nakajima, which was enough to beat the #1 Porsche by just over a tenth.

Neither of the two Porsches could improve on their earlier times in the final qualifying session, and will therefore start from the second row of the grid in third and fourth.

Neel Jani ended up with the best Porsche time, a 3m17.159s in the #1 car – 2.468s down on Kobayashi’s sensational pole time and eight tenths up on Timo Bernhard’s best effort in the #2 919 Hybrid.

The #2 car sat out much of the session when Brendon Hartley slowed and eventually ground to a halt at Indianapolis, a precaution taken due to rising oil temperatures.

Nicolas Lapierre logged an improvement early on in the session in the third Toyota, the #9 car, but couldn’t improve on fifth with his time of 3m18.625s.

Having lagged behind the best of the LMP2s after second qualifying, Oliver Webb hauled the #4 ByKolles ENSO CLM up to sixth overall with a best time of 3m24.170s, nine seconds off the pace.

Lynn grabs LMP2 pole for G-Drive

Alex Lynn sealed LMP2 pole position for the #26 G-Drive Oreca, banging in a lap of 3m25.352s early in the session to elevate the car he shares with Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet from seventh place.

That was two tenths faster than the time Vitaly Petrov set in the #25 Manor Oreca at the end of Thursday’s earlier qualifying session.

The battle for third went down to the closing minutes, with first Bruno Senna putting the #31 Rebellion Oreca into the position before Ho-Pin Tung reclaimed it for the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car.

The #13 Rebellion Oreca, which Mathias Beche improved to a 3m26.811s, ended up fifth, while the #24 Manor Oreca will start sixth after Jean-Eric Vergne proved unable to improve on the time he set early in Thursday’s first session.

Overnight polesitter Matthieu Vaxiviere’s #28 TDS Oreca had been shuffled down to 12th by the time he got the chance to do a serious lap.

His pace was good enough seventh place ahead of the #35 Signatech Oreca that Nelson Panciatici set the time in late on. Alex Brundle was another to improve in the final 15 minutes, securing the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca ninth.

The #27 SMP Dallara was the best non-Oreca after breaking into the top 10 with just eight minutes remaining – 2.430s off the pace.

The best of the Ligiers was the #32 United Autosports Ligier in 15th place, Filipe Albuquerque posting two improvements in the final 30 minutes to take the position.

Rubens Barrichello qualified 17th for his first Le Mans in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara, also improving his time early in this session.

Aston Martin annexes GTE Pro pole

Last year’s GTE Pro class pole position time of 3m51.185s only fell in the final half hour of the session as Richie Stanaway took the #95 Aston Martin round in 3m51.038s, only to be supplanted by Darren Turner in the sister #97 Vantage with a 3m50.837s.

James Calado managed to split the Astons with a 3m51.028s in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari during the final minutes, and might have improved but for yellow flags as the chequered flag flew.

Sam Bird was fourth in the sister #71 entry, just 0.048s off Stanaway.

Ryan Briscoe was the fastest of the Ford GTs in the #69 Ganassi-run car with a 3m51.232s he set mid-way through the session, and which topped the timesheets until the Astons and Ferraris demoted him to fifth.

The #63 Corvette was sixth, courtesy of a 3m51.484s lap set by Antonio Garcia in the first half of the session.

Porsche did have a car in the top three during the session, but the #92 car slid down the order to seventh after Michael Christensen posted its fastest lap of 3m51.847s.

Frederic Makowiecki had two spins as he tried to bring the sister #91 car on to equal terms - he lines up 13th and last in class, but less than two seconds off Turner’s benchmark.

Fernando Rees secured GTE Am pole in the unfancied Larbre Competition Corvette after rivals failed to match the 3m52.843s lap he set in the first half of the session.

Pedro Lamy was the quickest of the chasing pack in the #98 Aston, and only Rees and Lamy managed to beat a 3m53.312s Townsend Bell set earlier in the session in the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.

Qualifying results (top 10):

1 7 france Stéphane Sarrazin 
japan Kamui Kobayashi 
united_kingdom Mike Conway 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 3'14.791  
2 8 united_kingdom Anthony Davidson 
japan Kazuki Nakajima 
switzerland Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 3'17.128 2.337
3 1 germany Andre Lotterer 
switzerland Neel Jani 
united_kingdom Nick Tandy 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 3'17.259 2.468
4 2 germany Timo Bernhard 
new_zealand Brendon Hartley 
new_zealand Earl Bamber 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 3'18.067 3.276
5 9 france Nicolas Lapierre 
argentina Jose Maria Lopez 
japan Yuji Kunimoto 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 3'18.625 3.834
6 4 italy Marco Bonanomi 
united_kingdom Oliver Webb 
austria Dominik Kraihamer 
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 3'24.170 9.379
7 26 russia Roman Rusinov 
france Pierre Thiriet 
united_kingdom Alex Lynn 
Oreca 07 LMP2 3'25.352 10.561
8 25 russia Vitaly Petrov 
switzerland Simon Trummer 
mexico Roberto Gonzalez 
Oreca 07 LMP2 3'25.549 10.758
9 38 united_kingdom Oliver Jarvis 
china Ho-Pin Tung 
france Thomas Laurent 
Oreca 07 LMP2 3'25.911 11.120
10 31 brazil Bruno Senna 
france Julien Canal 
france Nicolas Prost 
Oreca 07 LMP2 3'26.736 11.945

Click HERE for full session results

Additional reporting by Stuart Codling

Next article
Le Mans 24h: Kobayashi smashes lap record in second qualifying

Previous article

Le Mans 24h: Kobayashi smashes lap record in second qualifying

Next article

Ford not happy with Le Mans qualifying pace

Ford not happy with Le Mans qualifying pace
Load comments

About this article

Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Location Circuit de la Sarthe
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jamie Klein
Article type Qualifying report