The 85th edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans will see Toyota start from the front row, securing first and second positions in the third and final qualifying session. The team also managed to score a record breaking lap as Kamui Kobayashi completed it in 3m14.791s in the second qualifying, which remained uncontested in the final two hours of running. This means that Kobayashi along with teammates Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin will begin the race on Saturday from the pole in the No. 7 TS050 Hybrid.
Joining them in the second place will be Toyota’s second machine – No. 8, thanks to a lap of 3m 17.128s from Kazuki Nakajima soon after the start of the third session. The No. 8 Toyota managed to beat the No. 1 Porsche by just over a tenth.
The two Porsches couldn’t improve upon earlier times in the final qualifying session. Neel Jani in car No. 1 could put out the best time for Porsche lapping the track in 3m17.159s, which stands 2.468s behind Kobayashi’s pole time. Meanwhile, car No. 2 finished eight tenths of a second down on Jani in the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Car no. 2, however, was out of action for the final session, when Brendon Hartley slowed and eventually came to a halt, as a precaution taken due to rising oil temperatures. Neither Porsches could improve upon previous times, and will now start in the second row on the grid in the third and fourth place respectively.
The third Toyota on the grid, no. 9 driven by Nicolas Lapierre will start fifth in the race, after clocking a time of 3m18.625s.
In the LMP2 class, one of the most competitive at Le Mans, the top spot went to the G-Drive Racing Oreca driven by Pierre Thiriet with teammates Alex Lynn and Roman Rusinov. The team will start seventh overall on the grid. Roberto Gonzalez of the CEFC Manor TRS Racing team was second in class and will start eighth overall on the grid. Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung took third in class and is set to start ninth overall on the grid.
The GTE Pro Class was quite a heated battle with Aston Martin Racing team stepping up and claiming pole. Teammates Daren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra showed some stellar performance, overtaking Porsche, who seemed confident to claim the pole in the initial laps. Meanwhile, James Calado driving No. 51 AF Corse took second in class, while the other Aston Martin Racing car driven by Nicki Thiim took third position. The top three positions in the GTE Pro Class will start 32nd, 33rd and 34 respectively in the final race tomorrow.
60 cars over four classes will be starting the 24 Hours of Le Mans race on Saturday.