Le Mans 24 Hours: Kobayashi claims pole for Toyota as Porsche heads GT field

Kamui Kobayashi took pole position for Toyota at the Le Mans 24 Hours after beating Rebellion's Gustavo Menezes in a tightly-contested Hyperpole session

Le Mans 24 Hours: Kobayashi claims pole for Toyota as Porsche heads GT field

The new-for-2020 Hyperpole shootout gave the fastest six cars in each class during Thursday's first qualifying session a chance to fight for pole in a condensed 30-minute session on Friday morning.

In the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Kobayashi clocked a first flying lap of 3m15.920s, comfortably quicker than teammate Kazuki Nakajima's 3m17.424s in the #8 Toyota.

Rebellion returned fire by virtue of a stellar 3m15.822s from Gustavo Menezes in the #1 Rebellion R-13, the fastest ever lap around the Circuit de la Sarthe for a privateer and a non-hybrid car.

That prompted lap record holder Kobayashi to respond with an even quicker lap, posting a 3m15.267 on his next attempt. Nakajima also improved, but stayed third with a 3m16.649, ahead of the second Rebellion of Louis Deletraz.

Tom Dillmann's #4 ByKolles machine brought up the rear of the LMP1 field, the ENSO CLM P1/01 barely ahead of the LMP2 runners, 7.77s off Kobayashi's benchmark.

Paul di Resta secured pole in LMP2 aboard the #22 United Autosports ORECA, setting the pace early on with a 3m24.528s.

The Scot was three tenths quicker than Jean-Eric Vergne in the #26 G-Drive ORECA, with Will Stevens initially third and the best of the Goodyear-shod cars in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA.

Toyota protege Kenta Yamashita briefly took third away from Stevens in the #33 High Class ORECA, only to then be demoted himself by a late effort from Nyck de Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA.

Mercedes Formula E racer De Vries had survived an early scare in the Porsche Curves, going straight on into the gravel trap but narrowly avoiding the barriers on his wait out.

Meanwhile Porsche's Gianmaria Bruni headed the way in GTE Pro, as James Calado's Ferrari pipped lead Aston Martin runner Marco Sorensen for second in the closing stages.

Sam Bird led the early proceedings in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, his time of 3m51.515 actually two tenths slower than GTE Am's provisional polesitter Matt Campbell in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.

Bruni then went faster in the #91 Porsche, setting a 3m50.874s which proved 0.241s quicker than Calado's #51 Ferrari.

Sorensen took third in the #95 Aston ahead of team-mate Alex Lynn, with Bird shuffled back to fifth ahead of the second Porsche of Michael Christensen, who finished the session 0.9s adrift of his team-mate.

In GTE Am, Campbell's early effort was eventually bettered by Come Ledogar in the #61 Luzich Ferrari, the Frenchman posting a 3m51.266s good enough for fourth overall among the GT field.

Campbell was just half a tenths slower in second, as Matteo Cairoli's #56 Team Project 1 Porsche beat the #98 Aston Martin of Ross Gunn to fourth place.

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Le Mans 24 Hours: Rebellion tops final practice before Hyperpole

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About this article

Series WEC
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Teams Toyota Racing , Porsche Team
Author Filip Cleeren
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