Toyota breezes to front-row lock-out in Silverstone qualifying

Toyota Gazoo Racing carried on where it left off the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season as it locked out the top two spots on the grid ahead of Sunday’s 4 Hours of Silverstone.

From the word go, Mike Conway - in the #7 TS050 Hybrid - was immediately one of the fastest on track with his 1m36.038sec and combined with teammate Kamui Kobayashi’s 1m35.992sec - the fastest lap of the weekend - the pair proved to be untouchable at the top of the standings. The #8 - driven by Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi - could only combine to finish 0.300sec down as neither could find the same amount of time Kobayashi and Conway could on the new, grippy, Silverstone asphalt. Claiming third was the #1 Rebellion Racing R13 of Bruno Senna and Gustavo Menezes who were the last team within a second of Toyota’s pole time with their average of 0.545sec. Fourth went to the second Rebellion half-a-second further back with the two Ginettas finishing fifth and sixth, the #6 of Mike Simpson and Ollie Jarvis only 0.196sec slower than the #3 Rebellion.

Racing Team Nederland took its first LMP2 pole position in the WEC as Giedo van der Garde and Job van Uitert combined to push out weekend pacesetters United Autosports by more than seven-tenths of a second as the Anglo-American team failed to match the same pace it was setting in the three Free Practice sessions. Jackie Chan DC Racing took third just over a second behind the pole time with Cool Racing less than a tenth behind in the team’s first WEC qualifying session since its graduation from the ELMS.

Ferrari locked out the front of GTE Pro as James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi finished 0.130sec clear of Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina despite Calado saying after the session that he had a ‘pretty average’ lap having mis-judged the gap between himself and one of the Aston Martins. One of those Aston Martins - the #97 - will start the four-hour race in third as Alex Lynn made a late improvement to push the Vantage he shares with Maxime Martin up from the rear-end of the Pro field. Despite being at the front in practice, Porsche struggled in qualifying with the #91 of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz the highest of the 911 RSRs in fourth. That’s despite Bruni causing a red flag after a tyre flatspotted by a spin coming out of Farm Curve gave up the ghost on the way into Stowe, with flailing rubber tearing off the left-front corner of the car. It was repaired and came back out, with Lietz edging out the Dane Train Aston of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen by less than 0.1sec.

TF Sport took pole position in GTE Am, with Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc combining to take their fifth pole in the six races they’ve raced together this year, their first with the new generation Vantage. They finished 0.337sec ahead of the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche, despite Egidio Perfetti’s storming lap before handing the car over to Matteo Cairoli. Third went to the #98 factory Aston Martin as Ross Gunn impressed on his first qualifying session alongside Paul Dalla Lana.