Le Mans 24 Hours pole record likely to be beaten in 2017 qualifying

Toyota predicts that the qualifying record for the Le Mans 24 Hours will fall this year

Le Mans 24 Hours pole record likely to be beaten in 2017 qualifying

The Japanese manufacturer is expecting times below Porsche driver Neel Jani's 2015 pole position lap of 3m16.887s during qualifying for the World Endurance Championship blue riband on Wednesday and Thursday.

Le Mans 24 Hours 2017 team by team guide

The predictions come after Kamui Kobayashi topped the official pre-race test at Le Mans with a 3m18.132s in the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID.

Times typically fall during race week as the 8.47-mile Le Mans track, which includes large sections of public road, increases in grip as rubber is laid down.

Kobayashi, who drives his Toyota with Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin, encountered traffic on the way to his 3m18.1s best and a 3m18.3s set at the start of his run

"I wasn't happy with my lap, so I think it [Jani's time] can be beaten," he told Autosport.

"We'll give it a try."

Sebastien Buemi, who shares the #8 Toyota with Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, agreed with his team-mate.

"If the track and conditions are good, the record can be beaten," he said.

"I think we could see a 3m15s."

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon said that it was "logical" that the qualifying record on the current circuit configuration would fall this week.

"If you look at the trends it should be beaten, but we are not going to be focusing on qualifying," he explained.

Increased speeds at Le Mans have come despite new aerodynamic rules for this year designed to rob LMP1 cars of downforce and keep a cap on falling lap times.

They followed the cut in engine power of approximately 7% for last year.

The designers have clawed back much of the aerodynamic loss, while resurfacing work at Le Mans, part of the latest wave of circuit improvements, could also be a factor in quicker lap times.

New asphalt has been laid on the 2.59-mile Le Mans-Bugatti circuit, which affects the second segment of the Ford Chicane, the Dunlop Chicane and the first part of the Esses on the full Circuit de la Sarthe used for the 24 Hours.

Jani's 2015 pole time equates to a 154.8mph average, which is slower than the 156.5mph lap that Hans Stuck recorded on the way to pole for Porsche in 1985.

Stuck posted a 3m14.8s in a Porsche 962C on a circuit layout that had yet to include the Dunlop Chicane or the two chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.

The fastest ever lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe in terms of time is the 3m13.6s set by Jackie Oliver in a Porsche 917LH in 1971 when the circuit was approximately 150 metres shorter than in 1985.

That means the average speed of the lap set at the pre-race test was slightly slower at 155.6mph.

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