Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota top Qualifying 1 at Le Sarthe

Toyota claimed provisional pole at Le Mans with the #7 car, Kamui Kobayashi setting the fastest time ahead of the Toyota #8. TDS Racing #28 took the spoils in LMP2, with Aston Martin doing the double in the GTE categories.

Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota top Qualifying 1 at Le Sarthe
Toyota look supreme so far. | Photo: Twitter/Toyota WEC Team

Continuing on from their blistering pace in the test day and this afternoon's Free Practice session, Toyota had the clear beating of Porsche in the first Qualifying session for Saturday and Sunday's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Early in the two hour period, Kamui Kobayashi's time of a 3:18.793 in the #7 Toyota was enough to top the timing sheets and take provisional pole, ahead of fellow Toyota trio, the #8 car of Kazuki Nakajima/Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.

Porsche had a reasonable session, with the #2 car of Timo Bernhard/Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber in third - however, the #1 of Andre Lotterer/Nick Tandy and Neel Jani lagged behind in fifth, over two seconds off the ultimate pace.

Lotterer and Porsche struggled for a clear lap. | Photo: Twitter/Porsche LMP1 Team
Lotterer and Porsche struggled for a clear lap. | Photo: Twitter/Porsche LMP1 Team

Further down the field, there was success for TDS Racing in LMP2 and Aston Martin in both GTE Pro and Am.

Kobayashi the benchmark after delayed start

The start of the session was delayed by 20 minutes, due to repair works on a set of barriers, after a crash in the sister series Road to Le Mans Qualifying session.

That set everyone into a mad rush to get to the end of pit lane by the time race director Eduardo Freitas signalled for green flags - a queue of cars rushing out on the dot of 20 past the hour.

As the precious remaining ambient light started to fade and times edged past Jani's 2016 pole time for Porsche, Toyota seized the top two positions on the first set of runs for the P1 class, the #7 car of Kobayashi six-tenths faster than #8, piloted by Nakajima. In third, the fastest Porsche - the #2 of Bernhard sat a nervy second back.

LMP2 - the class of the field

The battle in P2 was as tight as ever initially: Tor Graves in the #24 Manor heading the class early on, nine-hundredths ahead of his teammate in the #25, Mexican Roberto Gonzalez. In fact, the top six were within a second of each other, meaning that P2 may be the main place for action in 2017.

Aston Martin ahead in GTE

Aston Martin led the way in both GTE Pro and Am in the first hour. In the Pro category Marco Sorensen in the #30 had the beating of former Audi DTM driver Miguel Molina in the #31 Ferrari 488. The Ferrari's were distant in Am, Pedro Lamy half a second faster than the #77 Porsche of Marvin Dienst before he handed control of the #98 to Mathias Lauda.

Ford just...struggled. | Photo: Twitter/Ford Performance
Ford just...struggled. | Photo: Twitter/Ford Performance

Elsewhere in Pro, the various Fords and Corvettes struggled for pace, failing to trouble the frontrunners in Pro. Stefan Mucke was adamant that the Fords will be better in the heat than the cool of the night - that may be so, but it doesn't bode well for tomorrow's final two Qualifying sessions or the race itself as they look to defend their crown.

Change in the last hour

The fall of night and driver changes spelled the end of most of the fast running, as track and ambient temperatures fell rapidly. However, in P2, the Manor cars were ousted from the top two - the #28 TDS Racing car of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Francois Perrodo and Le Mans veteran Emmanuel Collard clinched top spot by a half-second, with the #31 Rebellion of Bruno Senna adopting second.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION - QUALIFYING 1
Pos No. Class Team Lineup Time Gap
1 7 LMP1-H Toyota Gazoo Racing Kobayashi/Conway/Sarrazin 3:18.793 -
2 8 LMP1-H Toyota Gazoo Racing Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima 3:19.431 +0.631
3 2 LMP1-H Porsche Team Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley 3:19.710 +0.917
4 9 LMP1-H Toyota Gazoo Racing Lapierre/Kunimoto/Lopez 3:19.958 +1.165
5 1 LMP1-H Porsche Team Jani/Lotterer/Tandy 3:21.165 +2.372
6 4 LMP1-L ByKolles Racing Team Webb/Kraihamer/Bonanomi 3:28.887 +10.094
7 28 LMP2 TDS Racing Perrodo/Vaxiviere/Collard 3:29.333 +10.540
8 31 LMP2 Vaillante Rebellion Prost/Canal/Senna 3:29.851 +11.058
9 25 LMP2 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Gonzalez/Trummer/Petrov 3:30.502 +11.709
10 24 LMP2 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Graves/Hirschi/Vergne 3:30.847 +12.054
11 38 LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing Tung/Laurent/Jarvis 3:31.024 +12.231
12 36 LMP2 Signatech Alpine Matmut Dumas/Menezes/Rao 3:31.065 +12.272
13 35 LMP2 Signatech Alpine Matmut Panciatici/Ragues/Negrao 3:31.439 +12.646
14 13 LMP2 Vaillante Rebellion Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche 3:31.636 +12.843
15 26 LMP2 G-Drive Racing Rusinov/Thiriet/Lynn 3:31.945 +13.152
16 22 LMP2 G-Drive Racing Rojas/Hirakawa/Gutierrez 3:31.963 +13.170
17 40 LMP2 Graff Allen/Matelli/Bradley 3:32.377 +13.684
18 39 LMP2 Graff Guibbert/Trouillet/Winslow 3:32.987 +14.194
19 29 LMP2 Racing Team Nederland Lammers/van Eerd/Barrichello 3:33.796 +15.003
20 21 LMP2 Dragonspeed Hedman/Hanley/Rosenqvist 3:34.046 +15.253
21 32 LMP2 United Autosports Owen/de Sadeleer/Albuquerque 3:34.166 +15.373
22 27 LMP2 SMP Racing Aleshin/Sirotkin/Shaytar 3:34.407 +15.614
23 47 LMP2 Cetilar Villorba Corse Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Belicchi 3:34.846 +16.053
24 23 LMP2 Panis Barthez Competition Barthez/Buret/Berthon 3:35.559 +16.766
25 49 LMP2 ARC Bratislava Komopka/Calko/Breukers 3:37.226 +18.433
26 45 LMP2 Algarve Pro Racing Patterson/McMurry/Capillaire 3:37.814 +19.021
27 17 LMP2 IDEC Sport Racing Lafargue/Lafargue/Zollinger 3:40.162 +21.369
28 43 LMP2 Keating Motorsports Keating/Bleekemolen/Taylor 3:40.813 +22.020
29 37 LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing Cheng/Gommendy/Brundle 3:41.393 +22.600
30 34 LMP2 Tockwith Motorsports Moore/Hanson/Chandhok 3:41.628 +22.835
31 33 LMP2 Eurasia Motorsport Nicolet/Nicolet/Maris 3:41.628 +22.835
32 95 GTE Pro Aston Martin Racing Thiim/Sorensen/Stanaway 3:52.117 +33.324
33 71 GTE Pro AF Corse Rigion/Bird/Molina 3:52.235 +33.442
34 51 GTE Pro AF Corse Calado/Pier Guidi/Rugolo 3:53.123 +34.330
35 97 GTE Pro Aston Martin Racing Turner/Adam/Serra 3:53.296 +34.503
36 67 GTE Pro Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani 3:54.118 +35.325
37 92 GTE Pro Porsche GT Team Christensen/Estre/Werner 3:54.243 +35.450
38 82 GTE Pro Risi Competizione Vilander/Fisichella/Kaffer 3:54.305 +35.512
39 91 GTE Pro Porsche GT Team Leitz/Makowiecki/Pilet 3:54.564 +35.771
40 63 GTE Pro Corvette Racing Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor 3:54.827 +36.034
41 64 GTE Pro Corvette Racing Gavin/Milner/Fassler 3:54.876 +36.083
42 68 GTE Pro Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Hand/Muller/Kanaan 3:55.059 +36.266
43 98 GTE Am Aston Martin Racing Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda 3:55.134 +36.341
44 69 GTE Pro Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon 3:55.553 +36.760
45 77 GTE Am Dempsey-Proton Racing Ried/Cairoli/Dienst 3:55.692 +36.899
46 66 GTE Pro Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Mucke/Pla/Johnson 3:55.803 +37.010
47 90 GTE Am TF Sport Yoluc/Hankey/Bell 3:55.953 +37.160
48 83 GTE Am DH Racing Krohn/Jonsson/Bertolini 3:55.966 +37.173
49 50 GTE Am Larbre Competition Rees/Brandela/Philippon 3:56.259 +37.466
50 61 GTE Am Clearwater Racing Mok/Sawa/Griffin 3:56.333 +37.540
51 88 GTE Am Proton Racing Bachler/Lemeret/Al Qubaisi 3:56.507 +37.714
52 84 GTE Am JMW Motorsport Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor 3:56.890 +38.097
53 62 GTE Am Scuderia Corsa MacNeil/Sweedler/Bell 3:57.267 +38.474
54 60 GTE Am Clearwater Racing Wee/Katoh/Parente 3:57.321 +38.528
55 99 GTE Am Beechdean AMR Howard/Gunn/Bryant 3:57.463 +38.670
56 93 GTE Am Proton Racing Long/Al Faisal/Hedlund 3:58.196 +39.403
57 65 GTE Am Scuderia Corsa Nielsen/Balzan/Curtis 3:58.249 +39.456
58 86 GTE Am Gulf Racing Wainwright/Barker/Foster 3:58.427 +39.634
59 54 GTE Am Spirit of Race Flohr/Castellacci/Beretta 3:58.904 +40.111
60 55 GTE Am Spirit of Race Cameron/Scott/Cioci 4:01.098 +42.305


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