The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 will start the 88th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a fast and frenetic Hyperpole session. The new qualifying format, introduced for the 2020 race, saw the fastest six cars in each class battle it out in frantic thirty minutes.
In LMP1, Kamui Kobayashi was handed the keys to his TS050 and did not disappoint. With less than half of the field on the track compared to a normal practice or qualifying session, the Japanese driver had the space to put together a string of fast lap times.
Kobayashi’s 3:15.267 proved enough to take pole for the Japanese manufacturer. The #7 Toyota was on an even faster lap towards the end of the session, perhaps even with an eye on eclipsing the 3:14.791 set back in 2017, but a track limits violation saw the time deleted.
An equally impressive front-row spot on the grid went to the #1 Rebellion Racing R13. Gustavo Menezes was the man behind the wheel, and held an early provisional pole with a 3:15.822 on his first flying lap. The US driver’s second flying lap was also deleted for track limits violations, upon which the Swiss team decided to abandon any further attempt at pole.
Row two will also be shared by Toyota and Rebellion, while ByKolles Racing Team were fifth-fastest in the session and will start the race from row three.
Hyperpole in LMP2 goes United Autosports’ way
In LMP2, Paul di Resta secured the pole position for the #22 United Autosports crew thanks to a session-fastest of 3:24.528. Jean-Eric Vergne was just 0.3 seconds slower for the #26 G-Drive Racing squad, and Nyck de Vries recovered from an off-track moment on his first flying lap to finish the session third fastest for the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca.
GTE Pro honours went the way of Porsche, with Gianmaria Bruni’s 3:50.812 proving to be the fastest time in the thirty-minute session. James Calado qualified his #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in second position.
Aston Martin opted to delay their qualifying runs, but the tactic didn’t pay off as Marco Sorensen could only qualify the #95 machine on the second row. The second Aston Martin was fourth-fastest, with the sister AF Corse machine in fifth and the #92 Porsche in sixth.
In GTE Am, the #61 Luzich Racing Ferrari took a surprise pole thanks to Côme Ledogar’s 3:51.266. Matt Campell was just 0.056 seconds behind the Frenchman in Hyperpole, qualifying his #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR on the front row.
Images © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)