TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position after setting the fastest-ever lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe in the final qualifying sessions on Thursday evening.
Kamui Kobayashi became the second Japanese driver to earn pole position with a lap of 3mins 14.791secs at 8.14pm during second qualifying in the #7 TS050 HYBRID he shares with Mike Conway and Stéphane Sarrazin for an average speed of 251.9km/h.
It will be an all-TOYOTA front row, with the World Championship-leading #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki starting from second. Kazuki set the quickest lap from the three qualifying sessions, in third qualifying.
The #9 TS050 HYBRID of Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto and José María López will start the race from fifth after Nicolas set the fastest lap early in third qualifying.
There is no track action on Friday in order to give teams time to prepare the cars properly for the race. As well as the team, the drivers are also busy, with the traditional parade through the city centre. A 45-minute warm-up on Saturday morning is the final preparation before the race, which starts at 3pm local time.
TS050 HYBRID #9 (Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto, José María López)
Qualifying 1: 4th (3min 19.958secs), 27 laps
Qualifying 2: 4th (3min 19.889secs), 5 laps
Qualifying 3: 3rd (3min 18.625secs), 31 laps
Grid position: 5th
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #9): “The whole team did a good job and I’m really happy for everyone for the pole position; it’s a reward for their hard work. I got used more to the car and the track, especially with the traffic. Now the most important thing is the race. The main focus is Sunday 3pm.”