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Le Mans qualifying: Nakajima, Alonso, Buemi on pole for Toyota

The #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso will start the Le Mans 24 Hours from pole as the manufacturer locked out the front row

Nakajima, who set the initial qualifying benchmark of 3m17.270s in Wednesday's first session, blitzed his previous best by close to two seconds with his first flying lap in the final part of qualifying on Thursday evening.

That effort was less than six tenths slower than Kamui Kobayashi's record 3m14.791s lap from 2017, which was set in far more favourable weather than the overcast and drizzly conditions that were a factor for much of the final part of qualifying.

Nakajima's lap and the failure of any driver in the #7 Toyota to improve on Kobayashi's fastest lap means the #8 he will share with Formula E frontrunner Buemi and two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso ended up securing pole by exactly two seconds.

"It was more or less at the maximum with no traffic, so I can't complain," said Nakajima.

"The track conditions were much better than yesterday and the lap was more or less as we expected.

"I was pushing hard to try to beat [Kobayashi's] record, so maybe I could have done better in places."

Alonso added: "Kazuki did an amazing lap yesterday so we put it all in his hands and he delivered the job. Congratulations to Kazuki especially.

"It's good for us, one-two for Toyota is what we wanted. We know it's only the preparation for the big race.

"We have to go in with a lot of respect and try to execute the race the best way we can and hopefully we have Toyota one-two also at the end of the race."

Improvements from both Rebellions at the start of the final session looked to have secured the leading privateer outfit a second-row lockout, only for the faster #3 car to have its time removed.

Thomas Laurent lapped the R-13 0.875s slower than the second Toyota, but that lap was one of a number removed by officials after the session ended as a result of Laurent missing the scrutineering light in the pitlane.

Stephane Sarrazin's 3m19.483s lap set in Wednesday's first qualifying session remained the #17 SMP car's fastest time, which was enough to split the two Rebellions after the #3's time was removed.

It also made it the fastest BR1 car by 1.6s over the DragonSpeed entry that qualified sixth.

The #11 SMP entry shared by Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button was a further three tenths slower and will start seventh courtesy of Petrov's fastest time, ahead of the sole ByKolles entry.

Tom Dillmann set a lap below the 3m21s barrier on Wednesday evening that would have given the ENSO CLM-Nissan sixth on the grid, but that time was later removed for excessive fuel consumption.

The two Manor-Ginettas were ninth and 10th fastest on best times at the end of the session before the #5 car had its time removed for the same scrutineering infringement as the #3 Rebellion.

Alex Brundle dragged the #6 car up to ninth in Thursday's earlier qualifying session, and the car eventually ended up with a fastest time of 3m23.757s that left it 8.380s off the ultimate pace and a little more than a second off the next slowest car.

Leo Roussel had hoisted the sister car just over a second behind the #6, but it the dropped to 14th in the classification behind four LMP2 cars when its fastest time was removed.

After a slow start on Wednesday, the two Ginettas completed a combined 87 laps over the course of qualifying.

LMP2: Pole decided after penalty

Paul-Loup Chatin claimed pole position in LMP2 for IDEC Sport after fellow ORECA entrant TDS Racing lost its best time for failing to stop at the scrutineering light.

Chatin's time of 3m24.842s had been shaded by 2013 event winner Loic Duval in the #28 TDS car, only for the stewards' intervention to bump the car he shared with Matthieu Vaxiviere and Francois Perrodo back to fourth.

Chatin also claimed a new record for the fastest LMP2 lap of Le Mans, a little over half a second faster than last year's pole time set by Alex Lynn.

The 2014 European Le Mans Series champion shaved a tenth off his Wednesday benchmark in the session's opening runs, which proved enough to keep the IDEC car ahead of Nathanel Berthon's #31 Dragonspeed ORECA, also running on Michelins, by just 0.041s.

Jean-Eric Vergne also lapped under last year's pole time in the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA, but was only fourth quickest until the sister TDS car's time was wiped, promoting him to third, albeit a further three tenths behind Chatin in the best of the Dunlop-shod cars.

Duval's 3m25.240s from first qualifying on Wednesday was good enough for fourth, while the top five was completed by Will Stevens in the best of the Ligiers entered by Panis-Barthez Competition, another car running on Michelins.

The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara did not re-emerge after a suspension failure caused Giorgio Sernagiotto to crash heavily and bring out the red flags in qualifying two.

GTE: Bruni's lap untouchable

Porsche sealed pole in GTE Pro courtesy of Gianmaria Bruni's 3m47.504s effort from Wednesday evening, which went unbeaten throughout Thursday's two sessions.

The top three in class remained unchanged from first qualifying, with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR leading the sister #92 Manthey-run car and the best of the Ganassi-run Ford GTs, the #66.

Alessandro Pier Guidi promoted the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to fourth in the final session with a time of 3m49.494s, demoting the #68 Ford to fifth and denying the Blue Oval a lockout of the second row.

The best of the CORE autosport-run IMSA Porsches also improved in the hands of Patrick Pilet to take sixth, while Richard Westbrook lifted the #69 Ford up to seventh ahead of the #94 Porsche, which didn't improve from Wednesday.

Completing the top 10 were the best of the Corvette C7.Rs, the #63 car of Antonio Garcia, and the second AF Corse Ferrari, whose best time was set by Sam Bird.

BMW's pair of MTEK-run M8 GTEs slipped down to 12th and 13th places, while Aston Martin's new Vantage GTEs failed to improve on their Wednesday times and will start 16th and 17th in class.

Porsche locked out the top three places in GTE Am, with Matteo Cairoli's lap from first qualifying in the #88 Dempsey-Proton car proving enough for class pole.

Ben Barker put the #86 Gulf Racing machine up to second with a time 0.663s shy of Cairoli and six tenths up on the second of Dempsey-Proton cars.

The #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari that had been third pre-session fell to fourth place, its best time having been set by ex-F1 star Giancarlo Fisichella in second qualifying.

Starting grid

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m15.377s -
2 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m17.377s 2.000s
3 LMP1 A.Lotterer, N.Jani, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.449s 4.072s
4 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.Isaakyan SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m19.483s 4.106s
5 LMP1 T.Laurent, M.Beche, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.945s 4.568s
6 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m21.110s 5.733s
7 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, J.Button SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m21.408s 6.031s
8 LMP1 O.Webb, D.Kraihamer, T.Dillmann ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/NISMO 3m22.505s 7.128s
9 LMP1 O.Rowland, A.Brundle, O.Turvey CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 3m23.757s 8.380s
10 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m24.842s 9.465s
11 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, N.Berthon DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m24.883s 9.506s
12 LMP2 R.Rusinov, A.Pizzitola, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m25.160s 9.783s
13 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m25.240s 9.863s
14 LMP1 C.Robertson, M.Simpson, L.Roussel CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 3m25.268s 9.891s
15 LMP2 T.Buret, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m25.376s 9.999s
16 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m26.681s 11.304s
17 LMP2 V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi, T.Gommendy Graff-SO24 ORECA/Gibson 3m26.701s 11.324s
18 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m26.772s 11.395s
19 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.120s 11.743s
20 LMP2 J.Jaafar, N.Jeffri, W.Tan Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.226s 11.849s
21 LMP2 J.Allen, J.Gutierrez, E.Guibbert G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.280s 11.903s
22 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, F.Nasr Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m27.993s 12.616s
23 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, J.Lammers Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m28.111s 12.734s
24 LMP2 Sadeleer, W.Owen, J.P.Montoya United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m28.159s 12.782s
25 LMP2 V.Shaytar, H.Newey, N.Nato SMP Racing Dallara/Gibson 3m28.629s 13.252s
26 LMP2 R.Taylor, C.Ledogar, D.H.Hansson Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m29.474s 14.097s
27 LMP2 A.Bertolini, N.Jonsson, T.Krohn Eurasia Motorsport Ligier/Gibson 3m33.585s 18.208s
28 LMP2 D.Cheng, N.Boulle, P.Nicolet Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m35.237s 19.860s
29 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, T.Dagoneau Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m38.206s 22.829s
30 LMP2 M.Patterson, A.D.De Jong, T.Kim Algarve Pro Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m39.518s 24.141s
31 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m47.504s 32.127s
32 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.097s 33.720s
33 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m49.181s 33.804s
34 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m49.494s 34.117s
35 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.582s 34.205s
36 GTE Pro P.Pilet, N.Tandy, E.Bamber Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.589s 34.212s
37 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.761s 34.384s
38 GTE Pro R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, S.Muller Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.089s 34.712s
39 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing - GM Chevrolet 3m50.242s 34.865s
40 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.246s 34.869s
41 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, T.Kanaan Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m50.429s 35.052s
42 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, A.Sims BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m50.579s 35.202s
43 GTE Pro M.Tomczyk, N.Catsburg, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m50.596s 35.219s
44 GTE Am M.Cairoli, K.Al Qubaisi, G.Roda Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m50.728s 35.351s
45 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing - GM Chevrolet 3m50.952s 35.575s
46 GTE Pro T.Vilander, A.Giovinazzi, P.Derani AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.957s 35.580s
47 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.Davison Gulf Racing Porsche 3m51.391s 36.014s
48 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m51.930s 36.553s
49 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m51.956s 36.579s
50 GTE Pro A.Lynn, M.Martin, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m52.486s 37.109s
51 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m52.985s 37.608s
52 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m53.070s 37.693s
53 GTE Am F.Babini, C.Nielsen, E.Maris Ebimotors Porsche 3m53.402s 38.025s
54 GTE Am Mok W.S., M.Griffin, K.Sawa Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m53.409s 38.032s
55 GTE Am L.Griffin, C.MacNeil, J.Segal JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m53.439s 38.062s
56 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, N.Thiim, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.523s 38.146s
57 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.817s 38.440s
58 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, L.Stolz Keating Motorsports Ferrari 3m54.000s 38.623s
59 GTE Am P.Long, T.Pappas, S.Pumpelly Proton Competition Porsche 3m54.720s 39.343s
60 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m54.951s 39.574s

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