Le Mans 24 Hours: Kobayashi seals pole in all Toyota front row

Toyota locked out its expected one-two on the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours grid after a disrupted final qualifying that prevented an early rush for fastest laps

Le Mans 24 Hours: Kobayashi seals pole in all Toyota front row

The relatively light conditions at the start of the session meant the majority of the LMP1 field headed out instantly in search of fast times in the cooler temperatures.

But a heavy crash for the #81 MTEK BMW M8 GTE of Nicky Catsburg at the Ford chicane caused a slow zone after just 11 minutes of the two-hour session.

Neither of the two Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs had improved their best times before the GTE Pro car's crash.

It meant Kamui Kobayashi's best time of 3m15.497s from the earlier qualifying session was enough to seal pole position for the #7 entry he shares with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, ahead of the best lap set by Kazuki Nakajima in the sister Toyota during the same period.

World Endurance Championship leaders Nakajima, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi therefore start second.

Both SMP Racing entries managed to squeeze in a flying lap before Catsburg's crash.

Egor Orudzhev won the intra-team battle by placing the #17 BR Engineering BR1 third on the grid courtesy of his 3m16.159s tour, trailing the pole time by 0.662s.

Ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne came close to putting the #11 SMP-run car ahead but could only produce a 3m16.665s effort.

That had initially proven good enough for fourth on the grid before Gustavo Menezes lifted the #3 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 into that position inside the final hour.

Menezes's 3m16.665s tour nudged the car Vandoorne shares with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov down into fifth.

The #3 Rebellion had lost a significant amount of running in the earlier qualifying session after Thomas Laurent stopped on track with smoke coming from the rear of the car.

A similar incident occurred for the sister #1 Rebellion in the final qualifying period when Bruno Senna stopped on track with over an hour remaining.

The Rebellion did not return to the track, meaning it remained in sixth.

The #10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 did not improve its time in the earlier qualifying and was late to take to the track in the final session.

It means the DragonSpeed entry will start the race in seventh ahead of the solo ByKolles car.

Tom Dillmann gave the ENSO CLM P1/01 its best lap time, producing a 3m23.109s lap.

LMP2 - Graff leads ORECA sweep

Graff took a surprise pole in LMP2 courtesy of an early flier from Tristan Gommendy, as ORECA locked out the top six places on the grid.

UPDATE: Graff loses pole to TDS

Pascal Rauturier's Graff squad finished second in LMP2 last year and set the fourth quickest time in the hotter conditions of the test day, but had not looked like troubling the pacesetters throughout the previous three sessions of race week until Gommendy pumped in a 3m25.073s to go 0.272 seconds clear of Loic Duval - who had set the early pace in the #28 TDS Racing ORECA.

This was 1.4s quicker than the benchmark time set in the first session by Pastor Maldonado in the #31 DragonSpeed ORECA, although still two tenths slower than last year's record pole lap claimed by Paul-Loup Chatin.

Gommendy's lap came amid a flurry of early improvements prior to the slow zone resulting from Catsburg's off, with Maldonado and Chatin's IDEC Sport ORECA also ducking under the previous pole time.

Three-time class winner Nicolas Lapierre displaced Chatin to take fourth for Signatech-Alpine in the closing stages, but despite setting purple sectors on his final effort could not remove Gommendy from the top spot, which he had previously won in 2014 when driving a TDS Racing ORECA 03.

There was much talk about the one-lap pace of the Michelin tyres relative to the Dunlops pre-event and although Gommendy's pole underlined its potential, Duval's Dunlop-shod ORECA went some way to allaying fears that the Michelins would have a huge advantage.

Behind Michelin runners Maldonado, Lapierre and Chatin, Jean-Eric Vergne was sixth in the TDS-run #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA, while Filipe Albuquerque celebrated his 34th birthday by taking seventh as the best non-ORECA in the #22 United Autosport Ligier.

GTE - Aston grabs pole

Aston Martin secured pole in the GTE Pro class ahead of Ford, Corvette and Porsche.

Marco Sorensen was at the wheel of the #95 Vantage GTE for a lap of 3m48.000s, which was enough to beat Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT by just 0.112s and Antonio Garcia in the #63 Corvette C7.R by 0.830s.

The best of the Porsche 911 RSRs was one of the CORE autosport-run IMSA cars, the #93 machine of Nick Tandy in fourth, which had been third until Garcia's last-gasp improvement.

BMW made it five different manufacturers in the top five thanks to Augusto Farfus's best lap in the #82 M8 GTE.

Ferrari's top representative was the #71 488 GTE of Sam Bird in eighth, behind the #66 Ford GT of late improver Dirk Muller and the WEC points-leading #92 Porsche driven by Michael Christensen.

Porsche locked out the top three places in GTE Am, with Matteo Cairoli clinching pole for the #88 Dempsey-Proton car with a best time of 3m51.439s.

Matt Campbell was around two tenths slower in the sister #77 car, while Thomas Preining made a late move up to third in the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche, demoting the best of the Ferraris - the #84 JMW Motorsport car.

Starting grid

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m15.497s -
2 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m15.908s 0.411s
3 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, S.Sirotkin SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m16.159s 0.662s
4 LMP1 T.Laurent, N.Berthon, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m16.404s 0.907s
5 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, S.Vandoorne SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m16.665s 1.168s
6 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m16.810s 1.313s
7 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m20.200s 4.703s
8 LMP1 T.Dillmann, O.Webb, P.Ruberti ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/Nissan 3m23.109s 7.612s
9 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m25.345s 9.848s
10 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, A.Davidson DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m25.667s 10.170s
11 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m25.874s 10.377s
12 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m26.011s 10.514s
13 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.van Uitert, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m26.257s 10.760s
14 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m26.543s 11.046s
15 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m26.821s 11.324s
16 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, N.de Vries Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m27.107s 11.610s
17 LMP2 R.Cullen, A.Brundle, W.Owen United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m27.509s 12.012s
18 LMP2 A.Fjordbach, D.Andersen, M.Beche High Class Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m27.610s 12.113s
19 LMP2 R.Binder, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m27.790s 12.293s
20 LMP2 D.H.Hansson, J.King, R.Taylor Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.049s 12.552s
21 LMP2 N.Jamin, P.Ragues, R.Dumas Duqueine Engineering ORECA/Gibson 3m28.195s 12.698s
22 LMP2 T.Gommendy, V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi Graff ORECA/Gibson 3m28.426s 12.929s
23 LMP2 D.Zollinger, A.Pizzitola, J.Falb Algarve Pro Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.457s 12.960s
24 LMP2 J.Farano, A.Maini, N.Nato RLR M Sport/Tower Events ORECA/Gibson 3m28.803s 13.306s
25 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, A.Belicchi Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m28.942s 13.445s
26 LMP2 J.Smiechowski, J.Winslow, N.Moore Inter Europol Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m30.744s 15.247s
27 LMP2 M.Konopka, H.Enqvist, K.Tereschenko ARC Bratislava Ligier/Gibson 3m34.146s 18.649s
28 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, N.Boulle Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m34.913s 19.416s
29 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m48.000s 32.503s
30 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, J.Bomarito Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m48.112s 32.615s
31 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m48.830s 33.333s
32 GTE Pro P.Pilet, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m48.907s 33.410s
33 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, J.Krohn BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m49.108s 33.611s
34 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.116s 33.619s
35 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.196s 33.699s
36 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m49.391s 33.894s
37 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m49.511s 34.014s
38 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.546s 34.049s
39 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m49.573s 34.076s
40 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m49.655s 34.158s
41 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.921s 34.424s
42 GTE Pro M.Martin, A.Lynn, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m50.037s 34.540s
43 GTE Pro S.Muller, M.Jaminet, D.Olsen Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.278s 34.781s
44 GTE Pro N.Catsburg, M.Tomczyk, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m51.353s 35.856s
45 GTE Am S.Hoshino, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m51.439s 35.942s
46 GTE Pro P.Derani, O.Jarvis, J.Gounon Risi Competizione Ferrari 3m51.454s 35.957s
47 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m51.645s 36.148s
48 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, T.Preining Gulf Racing Porsche 3m51.944s 36.447s
49 GTE Am J.Segal, R.Baptista, W.Lu JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m52.423s 36.926s
50 GTE Am L.Prette Jr., P.Prette, V.Abril Proton Competition Porsche 3m52.434s 36.937s
51 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m52.750s 37.253s
52 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m52.826s 37.329s
53 GTE Am T.Kimura, K.Cozzolino, C.Ledogar CarGuy Racing Ferrari 3m53.474s 37.977s
54 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, F.Fraga Keating Motorsports Ford 3m53.492s 37.995s
55 GTE Am C.Schiavoni, S.Pianezzola, A.Piccini Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m53.528s 38.031s
56 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.530s 38.033s
57 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m53.606s 38.109s
58 GTE Am C.MacNeil, T.Vilander, R.Smith WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 3m53.630s 38.133s
59 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m54.051s 38.554s
60 GTE Am M.Gostner, R.Frey, M.Gatting Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m54.083s 38.586s
61 GTE Am L.P.-Companc, M.Griffin, M.Cressoni Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m54.799s 39.302s

Toyota holds Le Mans 24 Hours front row after second qualifying
Previous article

Toyota holds Le Mans 24 Hours front row after second qualifying

Next article

WEC issues provisional entry list for 2019/20 season

WEC issues provisional entry list for 2019/20 season
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021