Kobayashi breaks Le Mans track record to secure pole for Toyota
Kamui Kobayashi breaks the Le Mans track record and set the fastest ever lap time on the 13.629m long Circuit de la Sarthe in the qualifying for the 85th edition of 24 hours of Le Mans. The #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, driven by 30-year-old Japanese driver, was flaying around the track to stop the clock at 3:14.791. That’s more than two seconds faster than previous record (3:16.89) set by Porsche’s Neel Jani in 2015.
Kobayashi’s lap time time, with an average speed of 251.9 km/h, is the fastest time ever on the track since two chicanes were added in 1989. The average speed was faster than for any previous lap in the 94-year history of the event, beating the 251.815 km/h set by Hans-Joachim Stuck in a Porsche in 1985. The record for the fastest lap of the circuit, in any layout, is still held by Pedro Rodriguez, who set a 3:13.90 back in 1971 in a Porsche 917.
1-2 for Toyota, Porsches in the second row
Kobayashi is sharing the #7 car with Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway. Toyota Gazoo Racing will start the 85th editon of 24 hours of Le Mans with two cars in front, as the #8 TS050 was the second fastest car with a qualifying time 3:17.128. The drivers of the #8 car are Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.
The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid secured grid spot number 3, next to sister car #2. The third Toyota, the #9 car, will start from the fifth place on the grid.
LMP2 class record improved for 11 seconds
The LMP2 class record has also been improved, by incredible eleven seconds. The fastest driver was Alex Lynn in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca, stopping the clocks at 3:25.352.
The Briton shares the cockpit with Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet. The second-fastest time was set by Ho-Pin Tung in the #38 Jackie ChanDC Racing Oreca, ahead of Vitaly Petrov in the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA.
Aston Martin and Corvette fastest in GT classes
Among GT cars, the thrilling qualifying session ended with just 1.7 seconds separating twelve cars in the LMGTE Pro category. Darren Turner, a former two-time class winner at Le Mans, was the fastest in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage with a record-breaking time of 3:50.837. Turner shares a car with Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra. James Calado in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE was the second fastest, ahead of Aston Martin’s #95 car.
In the GTE Am class, four different marques are equally represented in the first four places. The #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette will start from P1, followed by #98 Aston Martin Vantage, #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE and #77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
There is no track action on Friday to allow teams time to prepare the cars for the twice-round-the-clock classic which begins at 15.00 on Saturday.
Photos: Toyota Motorsport,