As expected, Toyota takes LM P1-H pole for 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Toyota did not disappoint those who expected it to do well in in Thursday’s qualifying for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The No. 7 LM P1-H team of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima will start the famous endurance race Saturday at the front of the field, capturing the pole with a best lap of 3:21.789, smashing last year’s pole time of 3:22.349.

The No. 14 Porsche 919 team will start second, earning a time of 3:22.146.

As for the LM P2 class, the No. 46 TDS Racing Thiriet Ligier JS P2 piloted by Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy had a best lap of 3:37.609 to earn the pole.

The No. 38 Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and late substitute Oliver Turvey will start second, having a qualifying time of 3:37.674.

In the GTE-Pro class, the Ferrari 458 Italia took the pole with a time of 3:53.700, followed by Corvette Racing’s No. 73 at 3:54.777.

In the GTE-Am class, 2013 GP2 vice-champion Sam Bird earned the pole with a time of 3:54.665 in the No. 81 AF Corse. Aston Martin rides finished second and third in qualifying.

Much like Wednesday, Thursday’s session included a number of incidents that brought out red action-stopping flags.

Speaking of which, the No. 99 GTE-Pro Aston Martin has withdrawn from the contest due to damage suffered in a wreck Wednesday that could not be repaired in time.

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Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.