After a staggering lap in the second of three qualifying sessions for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, Kamui Kobayashi’s No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid will lead the field to the green for Saturday’s endurance classic, as Toyota Gazoo Racing looks for its elusive first victory at Le Mans.
Kobayashi’s best time of 3:14.791 is a new lap record for the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in the configuration that features chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.
He’ll share the car with Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin, the latter driver having been swapped over to this entry for this race compared to the rest of the FIA World Endurance Championship season in place of Jose Maria Lopez.
Toyota had the 2016 Le Mans overall win in the bag with the No. 5 car, driven by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, last year before a technical defect occurred on a connector on the air line between the turbo charger and the intercooler, which caused a loss of turbo charger control.
That trio, now in the renumbered No. 8 Toyota, will roll off second in LMP1 and overall.
The pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids are next, with the third Toyota unable to better fifth in the hands of Lopez, Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre. That third Toyota can be used for strategic purposes against the Porsches for Saturday’s race.
The privateer LMP1 ByKolles Enso CLM P1/01 NISMO did well to get ahead of the LMP2 field, Oliver Webb turning the No. 4 car’s best time of 3:24.170.
The other polesitters in the other three classes are Alex Lynn (LMP2, No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, 3:25.352), Darren Turner (GTE-Pro, No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8, 3:50.837) and Fernando Rees (GTE-Am, No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R, 3:52.843).
All these classes changed hands from the Wednesday polesitters.
The unofficial starting grid is below.