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Le Mans: Toyota takes pole position for 24 Hour race (+photos)

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From wec.com

Records tumbled in the third and final qualifying session tonight, with Toyota Racing’s Kazuki Nakajima claiming a comprehensive pole position for the 82nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, due to start at 15h00 on Saturday, 14th June.

WEC Stephane Sarrazin Kazuka Nakajima Alex Wurz Toyota
Stephane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima and Alex Wurz. (Photo: Toyota Motorsport)

It is the first pole position ever for a Japanese driver, and Nakajima’s lap time of 3m21.789 in the No.7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid is a new qualifying lap record for hybrid-powered cars. 

It looked at one stage as though it would be a Toyota front row lock out, but Romain Dumas in the No.14 Porsche 919 Hybrid put in a fast lap time of 3m22.146, putting the German team – making its return to top line sportscar racing this year – on the front row of the grid. 

Third in class was the No.8 TS040 Hybrid, four tenths of a second ahead of the No.20 Porsche which had held provisional pole position up until this evening.

WEC Toyota TS040 hybrid
Toyota TS040 hybrid. (Photo: Toyota Motorsport)

Audi Sport Team Joest’s well-drilled team completely re-built the No.1 R18 e-tron quattro following Loïc Duval’s accident yesterday and all three of its cars were on track during both the evening’s qualifying sessions.  

WEC Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Audi R18 e-tron quattro. (Photo: Audi Motorsport)

Also on track and running without issues were the two Rebellion R-Ones in the LMP1-L sub-category, the No.12 Toyota-engined prototype qualifying two seconds ahead of the No.13 sister car.

In LMP2 the ELMS points leader Thiriet by TDS Racing claimed a first ever pole position for the new Ligier JS P2, the No.46 in the hands of Tristan Gommendy.  Another ELMS entrant, JOTA Sport’s Zytek,  will start alongside the Ligier and just ahead of OAK Racing’s Ligier JS P2 HPD. 

WEC Porsche 919
Porsche 919. (Photo: Porsche)

AF Corse claimed a double pole position in LMGTE – Gianmaria Bruni doing the honours in the Pro class in the No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia.  The Italian’s best lap of 3m53.700 was a full second ahead of the second-placed car in the class, and was some compensation to the team for the distress of seeing the No.71 sister car crash heavily out of the session.

WEC Ferrari 458 Italia GT AF Corse
Ferrari 458 Italia, AF Corse. (Photo: WRi2)

The grid is now set for the third round of the FIA WEC, and teams will use Friday to prepare for the race as there is no track action.

The 55 cars will next be on track at 9am Saturday morning for a 45-minute warm up, with the start of the race due to be given by Ferrari F1 star Fernando Alonso at 3pm on Saturday.