Toyota Secures Pole For 24 Hours Of Le Mans

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Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will start from the pole during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Toytoa Gazoo Racing Photo)
Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will start from the pole during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Toytoa Gazoo Racing Photo)

LE MANS, France – Toyota has locked out the front row for the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at Circuit de la Sarthe.

The field for the historic 24-hour race will be led by by the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.

At the wheel for the pole winning 3:15.497 lap was Kobayashi, who earned the second Le Mans pole of his career, though he came up short of breaking his qualifying record that he set in 2017.

“I am happy to be on pole again here,” Kobayashi said. “Actually I was hoping I could improve on my 2017 lap record but I was missing a little bit of time. Two years ago the track conditions and traffic were perfect; it wasn’t quite the same this time. But it’s a great feeling to be on pole and now we put all our effort to get the result on Sunday afternoon.”

Starting second will be the No. 8 Toyota entry driven by two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. The trio, who were .411 of a second shy of the No. 7 Toyota entry, are the defending winners at Le Mans.

“I feel good with the result; it’s job done for us,” said Alonso. “We wanted to get both Toyota’s on the front row and we managed it. The privateers were very close but we performed well to stay ahead and also get ready for the weekend. It’s always tough to race for 24 hours so we will prepare ourselves well on Friday and be ready for the fight.”

SMP Racing’s No. 17 qualified third with Egor Orudzhev at the wheel. He’ll share the car with Stéphane Sarrazin and Sergey Sirotkin.

In LMP2, the Graff squad snatched the top spot with a best lap of 3:25.073 courtesy of Tristan Gommendy. He’ll share the Graff Oreca 07-Gibson with Vincent Capillaire and Jonathan Hirschi.

TDS Racing’s Loic Duval, François Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere will start second in the LMP2 class.

In the GTE Pro division, Aston Martin Racing’s Marco Sorensen put the British brand on the class pole with a lap of 3:48.000. He’ll be joined in the No. 95 entry by Nicki Thiim and Darren Turner.

Second in GTE Pro is the No. 67 Ford GT driven by Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Jonathan Bomarito. Corvette Racing’s No. 63 entry driven by Antonio García, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller qualified third in class.

Lastly, Porsche swept the top-three positions in GTE Am. Matteo Cairoli led the way for Dempsey-Proton Racing, topping the charts with a 3:51.439. He’ll share the No. 88 Porsche with Satoshi Hoshino and Giorgio Roda.