Toyota holds Le Mans 24 Hours front row after second qualifying

Toyota is now on course to start the Le Mans 24 Hours first and second after its #7 and #8 LMP1 cars made significant gains in Thursday evening's qualifying session

Toyota holds Le Mans 24 Hours front row after second qualifying

The #7 TS050 HYBRID Kamui Kobayashi had put on provisional pole on Wednesday night remains fastest, with Kobayashi shaving more than a second and a half off his original benchmark with his first effort in the week's only daylight qualifying session.

Kazuki Nakajima elevated the #8 car he shares with double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi from fourth to second by lapping 0.411 seconds slower than his Japanese compatriot Kobayashi.

Nakajima also posted his 3m15.908s effort on his first flying lap of the session - a repeat of Toyota's Wednesday night plan of setting fast times early on, after which it returned to its race preparation programme.

Mikhail Aleshin held the lead momentarily in the #11 SMP Racing entry before being knocked back by the Toyotas, but his 3m16.953s effort did jump the BR Engineering-AER BR1 he shares with Stoffel Vandoorne and Vitaly Petrov ahead of the sister #17 car.

The #1 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 had all of its times from Wednesday's session deleted for a technical irregularity with its fuel-flow meter, but Neel Jani put the car back on the board by going sixth then improved to fourth with a 3m17.313s.

That time was more than two seconds faster than the best set by the same R-13 across last year's three qualifying sessions.

The #17 SMP car of Stephane Sarrazin, Sergey Sirotkin and Egor Orudzhev that started the day a provisional second was shuffled back to fifth, ahead of the #3 Rebellion - which caused a red flag within the first half hour of the session.

Thomas Laurent improved the car's time early on then immediately spun at the Dunlop chicane, but five minutes later stopped altogether exiting the Mulsanne corner with smoke coming from the rear of his R-13.

The car did not return to the track before the end of the session and is a provisional sixth, ahead of the DragonSpeed BRE-Gibson BR1 - which was the only top class entry not to improve its time in the session - and the #4 ByKolles entry.

ByKolles spent the early part of the session working on the front end of the solo ENSO CLM-Gibson P1/01 and, although Tom Dillmann was able to take to the track, the car's new best time 3m23.726s is more than eight seconds off the leading Toyota's pace.

LMP2 - Maldonado cements his advantage

Pastor Maldonado improved on his provisional pole time to retain top spot in LMP2 for DragonSpeed.

He set a 3m26.490s in the #31 ORECA, three tenths quicker than he managed on Wednesday night, and was never headed thereafter.

The DragonSpeed crew had an uneventful session after Roberto Gonzalez's clash with Mike Conway on Wednesday caused a spell in the pits, with its closest challenge coming from Stephane Richelmi's #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA - which finished 0.331s in arrears.

Dunlop-shod Richelmi eclipsed the time set by Nicolas Lapierre on Wednesday night by a little over a tenth, although Lapierre didn't get an opportunity to respond as his #36 Signatech-Alpine spent much of the session in the garage amid reports of an electrical problem.

Lapierre remains third, while Matthieu Vaxiviere was the other big mover - completing an ORECA top-four lockout in the #28 TDS Racing ORECA in the final 20 minutes of the session.

But Vaxiviere was still unable to join the top three in breaking under the 3m27s barrier, finishing on a 3m27.096s.

The best non-ORECA was the #29 Racing Team Netherland Dallara of Formula 2 title contender Nyck de Vries in fifth, just ahead of the #22 United Autosport Ligier - which was unable to improve on the time set by Filipe Albuquerque on Wednesday.

GTE - Porsche back on top

Porsche retook provisional pole in GTE Pro thanks to a late effort by Michael Christensen in the #92 911 RSR of 3m49.388s in the closing stages of the session.

Antonio Garcia - fastest on Wednesday night until his best time in the #63 Corvette C7.R was scrubbed - came within 0.036s of Christensen's time late on, becoming the only other driver to better Harry Tincknell's first qualifying benchmark in the #67 Ford GT.

Tincknell's time of 3m49.530s remained enough for third, ahead of the #93 Porsche - which also did not improve - while the #91 Porsche slipped one place to fifth despite a late gain by Gianmaria Bruni.

The best of the Aston Martins dropped from third to sixth on the provisional grid, ahead of the #94 Porsche, the #69 and #68 Fords and the top Ferrari, the #71 car.

BMW was therefore the only manufacturer to end up outside the top 10 in class, the two MTEK-run M8 GTEs classified 14th and 16th.

The top two times in GTE Am remain the same as on Wednesday, with Matteo Cairoli's best lap in the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche not being bettered.

Giancarlo Fisichella was the highest-profile improver, moving up to third place in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari, behind the #56 Project 1 Porsche.

Qualifying two times

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 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, S.Vandoorne SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m16.953s 1.456s
4 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m17.313s 1.816s
5 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, S.Sirotkin SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m17.437s 1.940s
6 LMP1 T.Laurent, N.Berthon, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m18.884s 3.387s
7 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m23.672s 8.175s
8 LMP1 T.Dillmann, O.Webb, P.Ruberti ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/Nissan 3m23.726s 8.229s
9 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, A.Davidson DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m26.490s 10.993s
10 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m26.821s 11.324s
11 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.096s 11.599s
12 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, Vries Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m27.107s 11.610s
13 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m27.356s 11.859s
14 LMP2 R.Binder, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m27.790s 12.293s
15 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.804s 12.307s
16 LMP2 T.Gommendy, V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi Graff ORECA/Gibson 3m28.426s 12.929s
17 LMP2 D.Zollinger, A.Pizzitola, J.Falb Algarve Pro Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.457s 12.960s
18 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m28.471s 12.974s
19 LMP2 D.H.Hansson, J.King, R.Taylor Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.569s 13.072s
20 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.van Uitert, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.713s 13.216s
21 LMP2 R.Cullen, A.Brundle, W.Owen United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m28.779s 13.282s
22 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, A.Belicchi Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m28.942s 13.445s
23 LMP2 J.Farano, A.Maini, N.Nato RLR M Sport/Tower Events ORECA/Gibson 3m29.137s 13.640s
24 LMP2 A.Fjordbach, D.Andersen, M.Beche High Class Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m29.633s 14.136s
25 LMP2 N.Jamin, P.Ragues, R.Dumas Duqueine Engineering ORECA/Gibson 3m30.353s 14.856s
26 LMP2 J.Smiechowski, J.Winslow, N.Moore Inter Europol Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m30.823s 15.326s
27 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, N.Boulle Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m36.144s 20.647s
28 LMP2 M.Konopka, H.Enqvist, K.Tereschenko ARC Bratislava Ligier/Gibson 3m44.799s 29.302s
29 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.388s 33.891s
30 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m49.424s 33.927s
31 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.921s 34.424s
32 GTE Pro P.Pilet, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.171s 34.674s
33 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m50.339s 34.842s
34 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m50.486s 34.989s
35 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.623s 35.126s
36 GTE Pro S.Muller, M.Jaminet, D.Olsen Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.810s 35.313s
37 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m51.011s 35.514s
38 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m51.019s 35.522s
39 GTE Pro N.Catsburg, M.Tomczyk, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m51.353s 35.856s
40 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m51.601s 36.104s
41 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, J.Krohn BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m51.818s 36.321s
42 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m51.948s 36.451s
43 GTE Pro M.Martin, A.Lynn, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m52.283s 36.786s
44 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m52.826s 37.329s
45 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, J.Bomarito Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m52.831s 37.334s
46 GTE Pro P.Derani, O.Jarvis, J.Gounon Risi Competizione Ferrari 3m53.244s 37.747s
47 GTE Am T.Kimura, K.Cozzolino, C.Ledogar CarGuy Racing Ferrari 3m53.474s 37.977s
48 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, F.Fraga Keating Motorsports Ford 3m53.492s 37.995s
49 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, T.Preining Gulf Racing Porsche 3m53.571s 38.074s
50 GTE Am C.Schiavoni, S.Pianezzola, A.Piccini Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m53.990s 38.493s
51 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m54.008s 38.511s
52 GTE Am S.Hoshino, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m54.107s 38.610s
53 GTE Am C.MacNeil, T.Vilander, R.Smith WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 3m54.350s 38.853s
54 GTE Am M.Gostner, R.Frey, M.Gatting Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m54.363s 38.866s
55 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m54.542s 39.045s
56 GTE Am L.Prette Jr., P.Prette, V.Abril Proton Competition Porsche 3m54.942s 39.445s
57 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m55.011s 39.514s
58 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m55.906s 40.409s
59 GTE Am L.P.-Companc, M.Griffin, M.Cressoni Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m56.120s 40.623s
60 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m56.136s 40.639s
61 GTE Am J.Segal, R.Baptista, W.Lu JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m56.154s 40.657s
62 GTE Am P.Long, T.Krohn, N.Jonsson Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche - -

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

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