Tomorrow’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – round 7 of FIA WEC Season 8 – will see Toyota Gazoo Racing start on pole for the 88th running of the race. The event will be held behind closed doors.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Kobayashi blasted around Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:15.267 to claim top spot for the rolling start. The popular Japanese driver has never won the legendary endurance race.
Kobayashi summed up his feelings, “To be honest, a little bit disappointed because on my second attempt it seemed I could break the record. The car seemed good, track conditions were good with the Hyperpole, we were more confident with the traffic situation, we were focussed on the performance.
“The team did a really great job, I was pretty confident in the car, and with this Hyperpole as a driver it’s a great opportunity to drive the [circuit] without traffic. It’s a fantastic feeling for me.”
The Japanese driver and his Toyota co-drivers Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway have yet to win Le Mans, but they did win last time out at Spa-Francorchamps and are carrying good momentum.
“We are definitely hungry to finally win. We’re always pretty quick here, but somehow we never won. Le Mans is always something special, even if you have one of the best cars you still don’t win. This is the story of the 24 Hours, but it’s always important to push and do your best,” added Kobayashi.
His effort, on Friday, of 3:15.267 during Hyperpole was half a second shy of his record time of 3:14.791 set in 2017.
Twenty-four of the 59 entrants took part in Hyperpole following the results from yesterday’s qualifying session.
The brand-new Hyperpole format is a new-for-2020 shootout session which determines the top six grid positions for each category [LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am] ahead of tomorrow’s rescheduled 24 hour race.
Hyperpole took place in warm and sunny conditions. Below are the main headlines from the 30-minute session:
- Kamui Kobayashi was quickest in Hyperpole at the wheel of the No 7. Toyota TS050 Hybrid. The Japanese driver set a lap time of 3:15.267 early in the session
- Rebellion Racing’s Gustavo Menezes clocked 3:15.822 in the Rebellion R13 Gibson, 0.555s adrift of Toyota’s pace-setting time
- Menezes’ time in the No. 1 car is the quickest LMP1 non-Hybrid lap time in the history of Le Mans
- Third quickest was the No. 8 Toyota driven by Kazuki Nakajima
- Rebellion Racing’s No. 3 car and the ByKolles Sport No. 4 Enso CLM P1/01 finished fourth and fifth respectively completing the top five grid positions ahead of tomorrow’s race
- Three different WEC manufacturers – Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin – finished in the top three after Hyperpole
- Porsche takes the top spot for tomorrow’s race as the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR – 19 driven by Gimmi Bruni clocked the fast time in Hyperpole with 3:50.874
- James Calado was second fastest in the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, the Briton 0.241s adrift of the No. 91 Porsche
- Aston Martin Racing will start third in LMGTE Pro tomorrow after Marco Sorensen third fastest in the No. 92 Aston Martin Vantage
- No. 97 (Aston Martin), No. 71 (Ferrari) and No. 92 (Porsche) fourth, fifth and sixth respectively
- WEC category leaders United Autosports will lead the 24 LMP2 entries tomorrow after the No. 22 ORECA clocked a blisteringly quick time of 3:24.528 with Paul Di Resta at the wheel
- ELMS entry G-Drive Racing second fastest, with No. 29 Racing Team Nederland third after recovering from an early off-track excursion with Nyck De Vries at the wheel
- Danish WEC team High Class Racing fourth out of the six LMP2 cars competing in Hyperpole as Kenta Yamashita set a time of 3:25.426
- Sister United Autosports car fifth overall, with No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing starting tomorrow’s race in sixth position
- In LMGTE Am, reigning ELMS GTE Champions Luzich Racing topped the Hyperpole times with Come Ledogar clocking 3:51.266 in the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo
- Quickest out of the full-time WEC entrants and starting second in Am tomorrow is the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing entry as Matt Campbell ended Hyperpole 0.056s adrift of Ledogar
- Rounding out the top three in Am Hyperpole was the No. 56 Team Project 1 entry in another Porsche 911 RSR
- Aston Martin Racing (No. 98), TF Sport (No. 90) and Gulf Racing (No. 86) finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively
- Several lap times were deleted throughout the field due to abuse of track limits
Full results from Hyperpole can be found HERE.
Tomorrow’s 24 hour race will commence at 14h30 CEST.
The Inaugural @24hoursoflemans Hyperpole is green. #LeMans24 #WEC pic.twitter.com/9PMiddpyjk
— WEC (@FIAWEC) September 18, 2020