Toyota and Aston Martin take final pole of 2018/19 season at Le Mans
The pole position time of 3m15.497 was set in Q2 by Kobayashi
Q1 - Wednesday
In the first of the three qualifying sessions ahead of the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the no7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid was on provisional pole position at the end of the 2 hour session in the dark. This was despite a collision at the final corner with the no31 Dragonspeed Oreca, which was rejoining the track right in front of the no7 Toyota. The resulting contact damaged both cars with both heading back to the pits for repairs.
Kamui Kobayashi set a lap time of 3m17.161 in the no7 Toyota prior to the collision, which was good enough to fend off a determined challenge from the no17 SMP Racing BR1-AER, which finished the session just 0.472s behind the lead Toyota.
The no67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Harry Tincknell set the fastest time in the LMGTE Pro category, with the British driver’s time of 3m49.530 just 0.028s fastest than the no93 Porsche 911 RSR and 0.5 seconds ahead of the no97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.
The no31 Dragonspeed Oreca was the fastest of the large LMP2 entry, despite the crash with the no7 Toyota. Pastor Maldonado’s time of 3m26.806 was just a tenth of a second ahead of the no36 Signatech Alpine Matmut A470, with the no22 United Autosports Ligier third fastest in 3m27.338.
The no88 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR was the fastest car in the LMGTE Am category with Matteo Cairoli setting a 3m52.464 lap. It was a Porsche 1-2-3 with the Italian’s lap 0.3 seconds ahead of the class championship leading car the no56 Team Project 1 Porsche, with the no77 Porsche 911 in third spot one second behind the lead car.
The second qualifying session of the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans saw the two Toyota TS050 hybrids set the fastest times of the weekend so, with the no7 Toyota leading the way. Kamui Kobayashi posted the best time of the two hour session with a 3m15.497, 0.411 seconds ahead of the sister car with Kazuki Nakajima setting a 3m15.908.
The no11 SMP Racing BR1-AER was the fastest of the non hybrid LMP1 entries with Mikhail Aleshin posting a 3m16.953, three tenths ahead of the no1 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson. The no3 Rebellion caused a red flag early in the session when the car dropped oil on the Mulsanne straight, forcing the car to stop on track.
In the LMGTE Pro class the championship leading no92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR was the quickest of the seventeen entries with Michael Christensen setting a 3m 49.388, fending off the challenge from the no63 Corvette Racing C7.R by just 0.036s. The no91 Porsche 911 RSR was third quickest in a time of 3m49.921.
The LMP2 class was once again led by the no31 Dragonspeed Oreca-Gibson with Pastor Maldonado setting the fastest class time of qualifying so far. The 3m26.490 lap time was 0.331s ahead of the no38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca-Gibson, with the no28 TDS Racing Oreca in third 0.606s behind the leading car.
The no54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Giancarlo Fisichella was the quickest car in the LMGTE Am category, the Italian setting a 3m52.826.
The third and final qualifying session ahead of the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw the no7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid capitalise on the pace it had shown in previous sessions to claim pole position for the eighth and final round of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season.
The pole position time of 3m15.497 was set in Q2 by Kamui Kobayashi and it wasn’t bettered in Q3. The no8 Toyota will start on the front row alongside the no7 car, with the 3m15.908 lap also set during Q2.
The no17 SMP Racing BR1 will head the second row of the grid with the no3 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson alongside the Russian team’s LMP1 race car.
Aston Martin Racing celebrated taking the pole position at Le Mans with a stunning lap of 3m48.000 by Marco Sorensen to beat the other class cars to the coveted LMGTE Pro pole position. The Danish driver’s lap was 0.112s ahead of the no67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell, with the no63 Corvette in third.
The championship leading no92 Porsche 911 RSR will start the race on Saturday in 7th on the LMGTE Pro grid, six places ahead of their championship rivals and teammates in the no91 Porsche.
The no39 Graff Oreca-Gibson took the LMP2 class pole in the final session with Tristen Gommendy posting a 3m25.073 to edge the best placed WEC entered car, the no28 TDS Racing Oreca, by 0.3 seconds. The no31 Dragonspeed Oreca was third fastest with a 3m25.667.
In LMGTE Am it is a Dempsey-Proton Racing 1-2, with the no88 Porsche 911 RSR of Matteo Cairoli finishing the day on 3m51.439, while the no77 Porsche of Matt Campbell finished on a 3m51.645. Porsche will also head the second row with the no86 Gulf Racing 911 finishing on a 3m51.944.
Friday is a rest day before the big event on Saturday 15 June, beginning with the Warm Up at 09h00 followed by the start of the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 15h00.
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