Qualifying

  • #7 Toyota stripped of pole position

    Pit lane speed penalty denies Toyota a 1-2 start

    The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez will start the Six Hours of Fuji at the back of the LMP1 field after being stripped of pole position. The entry, which had initially benefitted from Sebastien Buemi’s fastest lap in the #8 being deleted for a track limits violation, was itself stripped of its times because Lopez was adjudged to have been too fast going into pit entry. The penalty means the #8 – driven by Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima - has secured its third pole position of the season and will start on the front-row alongside the #1 Rebellion Racing R13-AER.

    Toyota explained that the Argentinian hadn’t engaged the pit speed limiter before the pit lane entrance, meaning he was 8.7km/h too fast entering the pits.

    “It happened and from my side I have learned from this and will avoid a similar situation in the future. My biggest mistake is not reporting the issue because I had a little doubt. I didn't know it could affect my lap time, which had been completely legal. If I had known that I would have reported it and for sure we would have done another lap but I will learn from this. It's a pity but there is still a long race ahead of us,” Lopez added.

  • Action Express Racing Stay Fastest for Qualifying

    Action Express Racing managed to claim a 1-2 in the Prototype class for qualifying for the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The two cars were split by 0.070 seconds at the chequered flag and appeared untouchable to the field behind. James French took the Prototype Challenge pole with style, claiming a competitive pole position that no one could pry out of his hands. In the GT classes, Ford dominated the GT Le Mans class, putting three of their four cars into the top three. GT Daytona pole went to Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3. He led home the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari and the #98 Aston Martin.

    The Prototype pole was fought for mainly between #5 Action Express Racing, #31 Action Express Racing, and #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. It looked like Ricky Taylor had pole position in the bag as he found an extra two seconds on his second flying lap, but it was an advantage that the others all found too. Joao Barbosa managed to get the advantage on everyone to take pole, but the competition was close to the chequered flag. Neel Jani in the #13 Rebellion Racing ORECA was on an intense lap for his final lap. It was his fastest lap of the session and looked like it could be challenging for a front-row start. He did make an improvement but it was not enough to get him any higher than third.

    The BAR1 Motorsports cars looked like a force to be reckoned with in the Prototype Challenge class. Off the start, they shot ahead of the rest of the class competitors, just as they had in practice sessions. However, James French saved his best laps for when they countered, putting in an incredible performance in the last few minutes to make him the only Prototype Challenge driver to dip into the 1m39s. Johnny Mowlem fought back just as hard in the #26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 but French kept finding more time out on track. Mowlem starts in front of teammate Buddy Rice in the second BAR1 Motorsport car.

    There was not a chance of getting ahead of the Ford drivers in the GT Le Mans class; the team was too fast for the rest of the field. Olivier Pla even had a spin, just about missing the tyre barrier on the outside of the circuit, and was still able to hold onto third. It was Joey Hand who took the glory back to Ford GT, placing the #66 on pole. In numerical order, the other two Fords of #67 and #68 completed the top three. There was a moment where a top-four lockout was possible for Ford, but the #911 Porsche 911 RSR got in the way of that. Patrick Pilet prevented a Ford top-four from happening until Toni Vilander put his Ferrari 488 GTE in front of the Porsche for fourth. The #69 Ford GT will start tomorrow fifth in class.

    Ferrari left their mark in GT Daytona as they took the top two places on the grid. Guidi took a competitive pole position in his Ferrari 488 GT3 and managed to hold off last year’s GT Daytona Champion Alessandro Balzan in the Scuderia Corsa #63. The Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R held third position for most of the session and looked to be set to take third in class. A late charge from Marco Sorensen in the #98 Aston Martin Vantage saw that slip away. Manthey Racing #59 take fourth whilst the Aston Martin crew line up third in class.

  • Le Mans Free Practice and Qualifying One

    Neel Jani put the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid at the top of the time sheets in FP1 in a session that ran without much incident. Kamui Kobayashi topped the time sheets with his first flying lap, going seven tenths quicker than anyone else with a time of 3:20.996 in the final hour of running. It looked like the time was going to stand but with 20 minutes to run, Jani went sixth tenths quicker with a time of 3:20.362.

    Qualifying One saw Toyota Gazoo Racing top the time sheets to take provisional pole but it was Timo Bernhard who initially went quickest in the #2 Porsche after the first few flying laps. Toyota reacted instantly, pitting the #7 and #8 cars and sending out Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima. Kobayashi responded, setting the fastest lap of the session, going six tenths quicker than anyone else with a time of 3:18.793. Nakajima took second in a Toyota One-Two whilst Bernhard’s time was good enough for third place. Having set the pace in FP1, Neel Jani could only manage to put the #1 Porsche 5th. ByKolles had another difficult session, lapping just half a second quicker than the leading LMP2.

    LMP2

    Alex Lynn knocked the #13 Vaillante Rebellion off the top of the time sheets in FP1, the ex-GP2 driver posted a time of 3:30.363 in the #26 G-Drive, 1.3 seconds quicker than anyone else.

    ORECA certainly appear to have a big advantage over the other competitors, the best non-ORECA car finished 10th. The SMP Racing Dallara in the hands of Victor Shaytar was over four seconds a lap slower. There was a close battle in qualifying between all the World Endurance Championship entrants. It looked as if Manor had the pace throughout the session as with just half an hour to run, Jean-Eric Vergne and Vitaly Petrov locked down the top two positions with the #25 and #24 cars. However, as time moved on and the temperature dropped, the rest of the field began fighting back. Bruno Senna broke in to the 3:29s before Vaxiviere went half a second quicker in the #28 TDS Oreca to take provisional pole with a time of 3:29.333. The Signatech Alpine entries sat sixth and seventh whilst the second Rebellion #13 finished eighth with Rusinov rounding out the top nine in the #26 G-Drive.

    The fastest non-ORECA running LMP2 finished 13th and was the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara in the hands of Rubens Barrichello, taking part in his first Le Mans qualifying session. The Brazilian set a lap time that was 4.463 seconds off the pace of provisional pole-sitter, Vaxiviere.

    GTE Pro

    There was a last minute driver change in GTE Pro, Lucas di Grassi has been ruled out of the event on medical grounds having broken his fibula in a charity football match. di Grassi failed to get himself out of the car without assistance within the seven second time limit on the driver extraction test. Michele Rugolo has been drafted in to fill his vacant seat patterning James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.

    #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 jumped to the top of the time sheets towards the end of free practice one. Aston Martin traded lap times with Corvette for most of the session before Bird put the Ferrari on top in the closing laps by half a second. James Calado pushed hard in the closing stages of the session to try and and match the pace of Bird but he was unable to match the time of 3:55.504.

    Aston Martin jumped straight to the top in the first qualifying session, Marco Sorensen leading the way in the #95 with a time of 3:52.117, it was only a tenth quicker than Sam Bird but Birds team mates were unable to improve on his opening lap time leaving the #71 crew second at the end of the session. The #51 Ferrari came in 0.888 down on the pole sitting Aston but overall, just two seconds covered the top six.

    GTE AM

    The factory-entered Aston Martin led the time sheets early on, Mathias Lauda setting the early pace before the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette went quickest at the end of the first hour. The #50 Corvette had a moment through Porsche Curves early on in the second hour and slammed in to the tyre barrier on the outside of the track. The Safety Car was called out for minor repair work and the session restarted. The Clearwater Ferrari was leading the session, even after suffering a left-rear puncture at the end of the third hour. Just after the final hour had started, Pedro Lamy set a new fastest lap of 3:58.234 which allowed him to end the session on top of the class with the #98 Aston Martin.

    Aston Martin also held the advantage from the start of the session in LM GTE Am. The #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche took the lead of the class for the first few minutes of the session, but as soon as Pedro Lamy had set his fast time there was no challenge to his 3:55.232. Only his team-mate, Mathias Lauda, could better the time, improving the Aston Martin #98’s provisional pole time to a 3:55.134.

    Matteo Cairoli‘s original fastest time in the #77 was enough to hold on to a comfortable second place. He had a three-tenth advantage over third-placed #90 TF Sport Aston Martin when the chequered flag fell.

  • Toyota lock out the front-row at Spa

    Toyota takes dominant one-two in Belgium to continue rapid Friday pace

    Toyota Gazoo Racing swept to a one-two in qualifying for the penultimate FIA World Endurance Championship race of the Super-Season at Spa-Francorchamps. Having rediscovered the pace the Japanese team had lost on Thursday in FP3 earlier in the day, the two TS050s continued their untouchable pace at the top of the field as the #7 qualified 0.496s ahead of the sister #8 to take the third pole of the season for the car crewed by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. Claiming third, and best of the non-Hybrid LMP1s, was the #17 SMP Racing BR1 shared by Egor Orudzhev, Sergey Sirotkin and Stephane Sarrazin. The trio finished almost one second down on the pole-sitting Toyota, but held the same margin over the fourth-placed #3 Rebellion. Fifth and sixth went to SMP and Rebellion respectively, with ByKolles a long way off the pace - the best average time for the CLM P1/01 slower than the bulk of the LMP2 class in a troubled session for the team, which caused the only red flag of LMP qualifying after stopping on track at the hands of Tom Dillmann.

    Pole in the LMP2 class went to the pacesetting G-Drive Racing team which has topped a number of practice sessions so far in its Aurus 01. The Russian team fought off the combined threat of the Jackie Chan DC Racing pairing as the bumblebee-liveried #38 out-muscled the #37 by 0.333s. DragonSpeed - which showed pace in the wet FP2 session yesterday - claimed fourth by just 0.016s from the Signatech Alpine.

    Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK claimed GTE Pro pole in the Ford GT’s penultimate race as a factory effort as Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx combined to edge out the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin by 0.067s. In a sign of how close the lead GTE class was, the BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE of Antonio Felix Da Costa and Augusto Farfus combined to set an average lap time that was only 0.092s down on the pole time.

    It was the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage that took pole position in GTEAM, combining with Carlie Eastwood, the duo set an average lap time of 2:16.061 to take P1 by just 0.11 ahead of Matteo Cairoli and Gianluca Roda. The #56 Project1 Porsche 911 RSR took third with a time of 2:16.39.

    All four classes broke the qualifying lap records here at Spa but with rain and snow set to fall tomorrow, the race could go any way.

    The 2019 FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps kicks off at 13:30 local time tomorrow.

  • Toyota overcomes Wednesday struggles to secure qualifying 1-2

    Toyota Gazoo Racing has locked out the front-row in qualifying for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours after a turnaround in form allowed Kazuki Nakajima to move the #8 up to second – 0.411s behind the pole-sitting #7.

    The front-row start is in stark contrast to the TS050’s form in Qualifying One on Wednesday night as Nakajima’s early flying lap in Thursday evening’s second session moved the car up to second. Despite his up-turn in pace, Kamui Kobayashi was also quick to improve on the provisional pole time for the #7 – his 3m15.497 was just 0.120s slower than the pole-time at last year’s Le Mans, the start of the Superseason.

    Six-tenths behind the Toyota was the #17 SMP Racing BR1. Stoffel Vandoorne had briefly set the fastest lap early in second qualifying – before it was beaten by the hybrid LMP1s – but was good enough to finish a couple of tenths clear of the fourth-placed #3 Rebellion Racing R13. That’s despite that car losing a chunk of time in Qualifying Two having pulled over exiting Mulsanne Corner with smoke and oil pouring out of the back of the car. Fifth went to the second SMP entry, which was the meat in a Rebellion sandwiched as the #1 finished the session sixth – losing the final hour of qualifying for a similar engine issue to the sister car.

    DragonSpeed will start seventh, the team not improving on the 3m20.200 set on Wednesday night. ByKolles did improve its time, but its 3m23.109 was almost three seconds off the back of the rest of the LMP1 field.

    Tristan Gommendy claimed LMP2 class pole for Graff in the last of three sessions as his 3m25.073 leapt the Oreca 07 ahead of the Loic Duval, who had sat on provisional class pole for a handful of minutes in the TDS Racing car. Despite sitting on top for the first two sessions, the #31 DragonSpeed car of Roberto Gonzalez, Anthony Davidson and Pastor Maldonado couldn’t make a similar upturn in pace to its rivals ahead and will start in third. Signatech Alpine will join DragonSpeed on the second row as the team’s mechanics resolved a mechanical issue that caused the Alpine A470 to lose a significant chunk of track time in the night session. Nicolas Lapierre’s 3m25.874 moved the car up from eighth and relegated IDEC Sport to fifth. G-Drive Racing will start the race in sixth in its Aurus 01, while United Autosports will start seventh in its Ligier. IDEC Sport will join DragonSpeed on the second row – two-tenths ahead of the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 in fifth.

    The back-and-forth battle for GTE Pro honours went the way of Aston Martin Racing as Marco Sorensen’s 3m48.000 in the #95 Vantage beat the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT by 0.112s, despite Harry Tincknell lowering his provisional pole time from last night by more than 1.4s. Corvette Racing secured third with just 20 minutes of qualifying remaining as Antonio Garcia hauled the #63 C7.R ahead of its IMSA rival the #93 CORE Autosport-run Porsche GT Team 911 RSR. Nick Tandy set the fastest lap for that car, 0.201s ahead of the #82 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE as five manufacturers locked out the top five places. The sister BMW, driven by Nicky Catsburg, caused the first Slow Zone of Qualifying Three as he went off at the Ford Chicane. The #81 missed the remaining 110 minutes of the session as mechanics set about repairing the front-end damage to the car. It will start second-to-last in class, beating only the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

    Dempsey-Proton Racing’s GTE Am entries sandwiched the Risi Ferrari as Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Porsche 911 jumped ahead of Matt Campbell in the sister #77 on Thursday night as the team enjoyed a 1-2. Porsche entries secured a top three in the category as Thomas Preining moved the Gulf Racing example up to third in the dying moments of qualifying. The #78 Proton Competition car – the sister of the Dempsey-Proton entries – missed out on the chance of securing a 1-2-3-4 for the German manufacturer as Francesco Castellacci pipped the team to fourth by 0.011s as he moved the JMW Motorsport Ferrari up from P16.

    In worse news for the Proton team, there was official confirmation that the #99 run for Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Pat Long has officially been withdrawn from the race. Krohn was advised by the FIA to take a week off racing following his large shunt on the Mulsanne Straight in Free Practice.

  • Toyota take pole at Fuji

    Kobayashi and Lopez take home pole for Toyota in LMP1

    Toyota Gazoo Racing will start its home FIA World Endurance Championship race on pole position as it took a 1-2 in qualifying at Fuji Speedway. The #7 TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez ended the 20-minute session on pole, but they had fortune on their side as the #8 – driven by Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi – had a lap deleted late on. The penalty, for Buemi running wide at turn 15, demoted the Swiss from pole to second, and his second lap was only good enough for second – 0.091sec off the pole on the two-driver average lap times.

    The second row was locked out by Rebellion Racing as the pairing of Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani in the #1 R13-Gibson edged out their team-mates Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent by 0.174sec. Fifth went to the #11 SMP Racing entry of Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev, the pair finishing just ahead of the sister car of Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov.

    In LMP2, it was the Dragonspeed Oreca 07 that claimed the top spot as Anthony Davidson’s blistering lap in his stint combined with an equally strong time from Roberto Gonzalez to go 0.297sec clear of the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca. The #37 – driven by Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri – edged out the second car of Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry by just 0.091sec in a session-long battle between the pair.Fourth went to Signatech Alpine, with TDS Racing – which was fighting at the top in practice – only fifth at the hands of Francois Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere.

    In GTE Pro, Aston Martin Racing secured the best qualifying result for the new Aston Martin Vantage so far this season as it claimed a 1-3 start. Taking pole position was the ‘Dane Train’ #95 of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen as the pair set a 1m36.093sec on their average times to go 0.182sec clear of the BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix Da Costa. Third was the second Aston Martin of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin, which was just 0.091sec quicker than the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell – the latter losing time on his last flying lap, and missing out on the chance of improving the #67’s time. The #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird rounded out the top five, just 0.449sec off the pace of the pole sitters.

    Like Free Practice Three this morning, GTE Am was dominated by the Porsche 911 RSRs. Claiming pole position was the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing entry driven by Matteo Cairoli and Satoshi Hoshino. The Pedro Lamy/Paul Dalla Lana Aston Martin was second – breaking the Porsche dominance slightly – but they have two Porsches breathing down their neck – the #77 Dempsey-Proton entry and the #56 Team Project 1 car.