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The fastest ever man around Le Mans scored pole: Toyota on top
Kamui Kobayashi takes pole position at Le Mans in his hybrid TS050
Remember Kamui Kobayashi? Former F1 driver, instigator of many late-braking heroics? He scored pole position in his hybrid Toyota LMP1 car for the most famous race of them all, the Le Mans 24hrs.
It was in the second quali session at Le Mans where Kobayashi set a time of 3m 15.497s around the 13.6km circuit, putting him and his co-drivers – Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez – at the pointiest end of the grid. Kobayashi still holds the outright lap record at Le Mans, set a couple of years ago.
There’s another Toyota competing of course: one driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and a certain Fernando Alonso (yeah, us neither). This TS050 – full of former F1 drivers you’ll notice – will sit alongside Kobayashi’s car on the grid to start second, having set a quali time of 3m 15.908s.
A non-hybrid LMP1 contender managed to qualify just six tenths slower behind the Toyota. Should be a cracking battle at the front.
The LMP2 cars qualified significantly slower, as expected. Graff-SO24’s #39 car managed a lap time of 3m 25.073 putting it at the front of this class, while Marco Sorensen’s Aston Vantage AMR qualified the fastest among the GTE Pro crowd (3m 48s). That’s ahead of the Ford GT and Corvette, all lapping within a few tenths of each other. Should be worth turning the sound up when these go head to head. An Aston and Corvette V8 at full chat in race spec is something your ears might not thank you for, but your soul just might.
The final class – GTE Am – was headed up by Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey’s team and their Porsche 911 RSR, with a time of 3m 51.439s.
Toyota then, are favourites to wrap up another Le Mans win following Alonso and co’s heroics last year. But Le Mans is a long, long race, and anything can happen…