LE MANS, France – Kamui Kobayashi gave Toyota Gazoo Racing its fourth-straight pole for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Friday at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Kobayashi, who will share the No. 7 TS050 Hybrid with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez this weekend, lapped Circuit de la Sarthe at 3:15.267 to claim his third Le Mans pole. That put Kobayashi more than half a second clear of the second-place Rebellion Racing R13 driven by Gustavo Menezes.
Kobayashi could have gone even faster during his last attempt, but he abandoned the lap after a track limits transgression. He admitted he was shooting for his own track record, which he set three years prior.
“I am really happy to be on pole position again,” Kobayashi said. “The team did a great job to prepare our car for this. In hyperpole we had two chances to set a quick lap so we played it a bit safe with the first one. On the second one I pushed to the maximum but unfortunately I had to abandon the lap. It had been a quick lap up until then; I was trying to break my record and it was close. I think there was a chance to go faster so it’s a pity it was deleted. Race speed looked good in practice so now we have to do the 24 hours. We have worked really hard to get to this point so we will do our best for the race.”
The Rebellion Racing No. 1, shared by Menezes, Bruno Senna and Norman Nato, will start second alongside the Toyota Gazoo Racing No. 7. Third went to the second Toyota Gazoo car, which will be driven by Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.
In LMP2, Paul di Resta put the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca on the class pole with a class record lap of 3:24.528. Di Resta will co-drive with Philip Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque. The No. 26 G-Drive entry shared by Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Mikkel Jensen qualified second in class.
The GTE Pro class pole went to Porsche and Gianmaria Bruni, who topped the class charts with at 3:50.874. Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowieck will share the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with Bruni.
Finally, in GTE Am, Frenchman Come Ledogar put the No. 61 Ferrari on the class pole at 3:51.266. He’ll be joined by American Francesco Piovanetti and Oswaldo Negri Jr. during the 24-hour endurance classic.