Kobayashi smashes Le Mans lap record to lead Toyota 1-2 in Qualifying

Autosport

Toyota will start the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours from the front row after sealing a 1-2 in Thursday evening’s third and final qualifying session.

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 team-mates 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 shortly after the start of the third session, 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 best of the Porsches after recording a 3m17.159s in the #1 car – 2.468 seconds 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 #9 Toyota 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 CLM up to sixth overall with a best time of 3m24.170s, nine seconds off the pace.

LYNN SECURES 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 final 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 ORECA.

The #13 Rebellion ORECA, which Mathias Beche improved to a 3m26.811s, ended up fifth.

Manor’s #24 ORECA will start sixth after Jean-Eric Vergne was unable to improve on the time he set early in Thursday’s first session.

Overnight class 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 for 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 – while 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 RTN Dallara, also improving his time early in this session.

The sole Riley ended up 24th in the hands of Ricky Taylor, who improved on Jeroen Bleekemolen’s time, ahead only of the #33 Eurasia Ligier that Erik Maris crashed in the preceding session.

ASTON ON TOP IN ULTRA-TIGHT GTE FIGHT

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

Fernando Rees will start from GTE Am pole in the otherwise unfancied Larbre Competition Corvette after rivals failed to match the 3m52.843s lap he set in the first half of the session before handing over to his Am team-mates.

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.

LE MANS 24 HOURS STARTING GRID

POSCLASSDRIVERTEAMCARTIMEGAP
1LMP1M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, S.SarrazinToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m14.791s
2LMP1A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.NakajimaToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m17.128s2.337s
3LMP1N.Tandy, A.Lotterer, N.JaniPorsche LMP TeamPorsche3m17.259s2.468s
4LMP1T.Bernhard, E.Bamber, B.HartleyPorsche LMP TeamPorsche3m18.067s3.276s
5LMP1J.M.Lopez, Y.Kunimoto, N.LapierreToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m18.625s3.834s
6LMP1O.Webb, M.Bonanomi, D.KraihamerByKOLLES Racing TeamENSO CLM/Nissan3m24.170s9.379s
7LMP2A.Lynn, R.Rusinov, P.ThirietG-Drive RacingORECA/Gibson3m25.352s10.561s
8LMP2V.Petrov, S.Trummer, R.GonzalezCEFC Manor TRS RacingORECA/Gibson3m25.549s10.758s
9LMP2H-Pin Tung, O.Jarvis, T.LaurentJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson3m25.911s11.120s
10LMP2N.Prost, B.Senna, J.CanalVaillante RebellionORECA/Gibson3m26.736s11.945s
11LMP2N.Piquet Jr., M.Beche, D.H.HanssonVaillante RebellionORECA/Gibson3m26.811s12.020s
12LMP2J-E.Vergne, J.Hirschi, T.GravesCEFC Manor TRS RacingORECA/Gibson3m26.871s12.080s
13LMP2E.Collard, M.Vaxiviere, F.PerrodoTDS RacingORECA/Gibson3m27.108s12.317s
14LMP2N.Panciatici, A.Negrao, P.RaguesSignatech Alpine MatmutAlpine/Gibson3m27.517s12.726s
15LMP2T.Gommendy, A.Brundle, D.ChengJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson3m27.535s12.744s
16LMP2M.Aleshin, S.Sirotkin, V.ShaytarSMP RacingDallara/Gibson3m27.782s12.991s
17LMP2R.Dumas, G.Menezes, M.RaoSignatech Alpine MatmutAlpine/Gibson3m28.051s13.260s
18LMP2E.Trouillet, E.Guibbert, J.WinslowGraffORECA/Gibson3m28.368s13.577s
19LMP2R.Bradley, J.Allen, F.MatelliGraffORECA/Gibson3m28.891s14.100s
20LMP2M.Rojas, R.Hirakawa, J.GutierrezG-Drive RacingORECA/Gibson3m28.937s14.146s
21LMP2F.Albuquerque, W.Owen, H.de SadeleerUnited AutosportsLigier/Gibson3m29.151s14.360s
22LMP2B.Hanley, F.Rosenqvist, H.HedmanDragonspeed – 10 StarORECA/Gibson3m29.777s14.986s
23LMP2R.Barrichello, J.Lammers, F.van EerdRacing Team NederlandDallara/Gibson3m29.976s15.185s
24LMP2A.Belicchi, R.Lacorte, G.SernagiottoCetilar Villorba CorseDallara/Gibson3m30.014s15.223s
25LMP2V.Capillaire, M.McMurry, M.PattersonAlgarve Pro RacingLigier/Gibson3m30.164s15.373s
26LMP2N.Berthon, T.Buret, F.BarthezPanis Barthez CompetitionLigier/Gibson3m31.346s16.555s
27LMP2N.Moore, K.Chandhok, P.HansonTockwith MotorsportsLigier/Gibson3m32.536s17.745s
28LMP2K.Calko, R.Breukers, M.KonopkaARC BratislavaLigier/Gibson3m33.921s19.130s
29LMP2P.Lafargue, P.Lafargue, D.ZollingerIdec Sport RacingLigier/Gibson3m36.230s21.439s
30LMP2J.Bleekemolen, R.Taylor, B.KeatingKeating MotorsportsRiley/Gibson3m37.007s22.216s
31LMP2J.Nicolet, P.Nicolet, E.MarisEurasia MotorsportLigier/Gibson3m42.660s27.869s
32GTE ProD.Turner, J.Adam, D.SerraAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m50.837s36.046s
33GTE ProA.P.Guidi, J.Calado, M.RugoloAF CorseFerrari3m51.028s36.237s
34GTE ProN.Thiim, M.Sorensen, R.StanawayAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m51.038s36.247s
35GTE ProD.Rigon, S.Bird, M.MolinaAF CorseFerrari3m51.086s36.295s
36GTE ProR.Briscoe, S.Dixon, R.WestbrookFord Chip Ganassi Team USAFord3m51.232s36.441s
37GTE ProJ.Magnussen, A.Garcia, J.TaylorCorvette Racing – GMChevrolet3m51.484s36.693s
38GTE ProM.Christensen, D.Werner, K.EstrePorsche GT TeamPorsche3m51.847s37.056s
39GTE ProO.Pla, S.Mucke, B.JohnsonFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord3m51.991s37.200s
40GTE ProA.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, P.DeraniFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord3m52.008s37.217s
41GTE ProO.Gavin, T.Milner, M.FasslerCorvette Racing – GMChevrolet3m52.017s37.226s
42GTE ProT.Vilander, G.Fisichella, P.KafferRisi CompetizioneFerrari3m52.138s37.347s
43GTE ProJ.Hand, T.Kanaan, D.MullerFord Chip Ganassi Team USAFord3m52.178s37.387s
44GTE ProR.Lietz, F.Makowiecki, P.PiletPorsche GT TeamPorsche3m52.593s37.802s
45GTE AmF.Rees, R.Brandela, C.PhilipponLarbre CompetitionChevrolet3m52.843s38.052s
46GTE AmP.Lamy, M.Lauda, P.D.LanaAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m53.233s38.442s
47GTE AmT.Bell, B.Sweedler, C.MacNeilScuderia CorsaFerrari3m53.312s38.521s
48GTE AmM.Cairoli, M.Dienst, C.RiedDempsey-Proton RacingPorsche3m53.381s38.590s
49GTE AmM.Cioci, A.Scott, D.CameronSpirit of RaceFerrari3m53.641s38.850s
50GTE AmW.Stevens, D.Vanthoor, R.SmithJMW MotorsportFerrari3m53.977s39.186s
51GTE AmA.Bertolini, N.Jonsson, T.KrohnDH RacingFerrari3m54.088s39.297s
52GTE AmR.Bell, E.Hankey, S.YolucTF SportAston Martin3m54.319s39.528s
53GTE AmR.Gunn, O.Bryant, A.HowardBeechdean AMRAston Martin3m54.328s39.537s
54GTE AmP.Long, A.Al Faisal, M.HedlundProton CompetitionPorsche3m54.621s39.830s
55GTE AmM.Griffin, K.Sawa, Mok W.S.Clearwater RacingFerrari3m54.955s40.164s
56GTE AmA.Parente, H.Katoh, R.WeeClearwater RacingFerrari3m54.994s40.203s
57GTE AmK.Bachler, S.Lemeret, K.Al QubaisiProton CompetitionPorsche3m55.468s40.677s
58GTE AmO.Beretta, F.Castellacci, T.FlohrSpirit of RaceFerrari3m56.301s41.510s
59GTE AmB.Barker, N.Foster, M.WainwrightGulf RacingPorsche3m56.469s41.678s
60GTE AmA.Balzan, C.Nielsen, B.CurtisScuderia CorsaFerrari3m58.249s43.458s

Kobayashi smashes Le Mans lap record to lead Toyota 1-2 in Qualifying

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