TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the 6 Hours of Mexico from the second row of the grid after a close but ultimately frustrating qualifying session for the fifth round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
In front of an enthusiastic crowd, the #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took the fight to the Porsches. They narrowly missed the front row by 0.092secs and will start third.
Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima will line up fourth in their #8 TS050 HYBRID after a more challenging qualifying session.
Qualifying started five minutes earlier than planned due to the threat of rain, but both TS050 HYBRIDs waited a few moments before hitting the track, in order to have a clear circuit ahead.
Kazuki in the #8 set the fastest first sector of all on his first lap but had to abandon the effort due to a small error. On his second flying lap, with the tyres no longer at their best, he put the car fourth.
Mike set only one lap in the #7, which has been on pole three times already this season, and earned second position before handing over to José María, who was narrowly behind the #1 Porsche after his first flying lap. He tried another attempt with fresh tyres but was blocked by an LMP2 car, taking away the chance of a front-row start.
The team chose a different tyre compound for Sébastien’s qualifying laps but that did not pay off and he could not improve on fourth, finishing with an average time 0.816secs behind the pole position-winning #2 Porsche.
Sunday’s race begins at midday local time and both cars will target an improved result to close the gap in the manufacturers’ World Championship, which currently stands at 40.5 points on leaders Porsche.
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Our qualifying speed was a bit better than we expected because we had struggled a bit during free practice and Porsche looked strong. We gave them a headache today and were close to the front row after a fantastic effort from the team. It was a pity on my last lap the LMP2 driver backed off and didn’t look in his mirror. I think I could have improved and maybe got on the front row.”